First things first: hope everything is fabulous in your respective digital universes. It has (yet again) been a hot minute since you’ve heard from me, but I’ve got pretty big news.
Massive changes are on the horizon for me beginning in May, surrounding the fate of Youngblood Sourcery, and my way of working over the rest of 2015.
Ready? Set? READ ON:
BIG CHANGE #1: As of May 2015, I am CLOSING my Astral Intensive packages and moving exclusively into quarterly retainer offerings.
Interested? Drop me a line at email@example.com. I’ll dish out all the deets.
Current clients: don’t worry! This will not effect our booked time together at all.
This way of working is ideal for clients who need long-term support around their blogs and social media, upcoming launches, ghostwriting projects, etc.
At this point in my career and growing skill set, I’m so excited to be a more permanent member of creative teams, and really show the world what I can do. Full disclosure: I’ll be the voice driving some pretty cool projects this year, so keep your eyes open.
BIG CHANGE #2: Cassie and I have parted ways, and I am leaving Youngblood Sourcery to move my work and brand over to HillaryWeiss.com later this year.
Don’t worry! The split was entirely loving and mutual. There is nothing but humble gratitude in my heart for the work we’ve done, and the work I’m sure we’ll be collaborating on in the future. We’ve just headed down separate paths, and now I’m ready to spread my wings and fly solo.
Yes, a rebrand and redesign is indeed in the works. I’ll let you know when my big “coming out” party is so we can celebrate!
BIG CHANGE #3: Coming Summer of 2015, I’ll be rolling out an all-new, workshop style “Do-It-Together” (DIT) web copy creation course.
Of course, I’ll need beta testers before I do the official launch. If that’s something you may be interested in, once again, holla atcha girl at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll add you to the list.
Here’s how it’s gonna work:
Each month, the course will open up to a small, intimate group of students (~8 at max capacity) for a week of copy workshop-ing led by me.
The curriculum will include how-to lessons on the finer points of penning strategic content, editing, and perfecting your sales page alongside myself and fellow students.
There’ll be personal reviews with me, as well as peer reviews, private and group calls, and more.
At the end of it all, students will walk away with a beautifully polished sales page, and an arsenal of copywriting smarts they can put to work in their business whenever they’ve got new content to create.
While sales pages are the initial focus of these workshops, if it just rocks beyond belief, I’ll be expanding it to include About pages and manifestos as well.
This is my way of keeping my door open to new clients and awesome projects at a lower price point, while also teaching the world how to do it for themselves!
Beta testing will likely start in May or June, so drop me a line if you’re digging this.
It’s a lot to take in, I know. But I’m so excited for the future, and hope you are too!
And now, gratitude:
After 150+ thrilled clients, a lot of love, laughter, hard work, and (happy) tears, it is with a bittersweet farewell I wind down this amazing era of my life and business.
To Cassie: I love you so much. We stumbled into this niche, started, and rose up together. For your friendship, support, and sweet, sweet coattails in those early days, I shall be forever grateful. For your faith in an unremarkable scribbler who never thought she could do this, I am forever indebted. You’ve been my rock and my roll, my muse and my mentor, and without you I’d still be stuck in a crappy office, writing semi-witty blog posts to ease the monotony.
To all of my clients: it has been an honor and a privilege to watch all of your businesses blossom and change. I have watched you go from small-time to six and seven figures, sign major publishing deals, launch world-changing programs, and so much more. Your work is incredible, and without you, I wouldn’t be here. So thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
To my colleagues: most of you already know what’s going on, so I raise a fist in the air for your continued greatness. Your wisdom and belief in me has carried me through.
To the haters, the doubters, and the “get a real jobbers”: nanny nanny boo boo, stick your head in doo doo.
And to you, incredible reader: from the bottom of my heart, thank you so, so much for being on this amazing journey with me. It’s been such an honor to have you in my orbit.
As always, if you have any questions at all, give me a shout at email@example.com.
To the future!
Psst, hey guys!
My first ever podcast interview just flew onto the digital airwaves.
Get it while it’s hot, y’all! Click HERE to listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or just online.
Also – be sure to catch my article ‘Social Media: YOU style – how to craft more shareable content in a noisy virtual world‘ in the latest issue of the magazine. Snatch up your glossy virtual copy HERE.
It’s free. It’s awesome. And you’re gonna love it.
There’s a ton of great content here from brilliant minds like Abby Kerr, Kendrick Shope, and Alex Franzen. Don’t miss it!
Huge thanks to the fabulous Miki Strong and the amazing crew over at Unemployable Woman Magazine for picking my brain. It was an absolute blast.
A friend of mine (a poet at heart) recently told me he was trying to write a poem, but hadn’t drafted anything he considered worthwhile. Or anything at all, really.
His reason? He had his heart set on writing a 30-line sonnet. And he hadn’t been able to pull it off yet.
Uh… what? I was startled. I’d never deliberately started a work with the idea it had to fit into a certain number of lines. Sure, I wrestle with word limits every day for clients, but creative writing? Free bird! Let the thoughts spill everywhere like buckets of bright paint. Swirl something awesome together afterwards.
When it comes to the wordy world, I have a few quips to spare. So naturally, I hopped aboard my writerly soapbox. I explained that while I understood his reasons (sonnets are a noble enterprise), he’d surprised me. Why?
Because I’ve come to understand that when you’re writing or creating anything for your own ends, that’s YOU. 100% pure, unadulterated personal brain power. So why would you limit yourself, or try to cram yourself into a box? Yes, hammering out 30 lines worthy of Shakespeare is a great challenge… but you’re not being challenged if you’re too spooked to even put pen to paper.
You HAVE to give yourself space to grow, I told him, and spill over the edge of the box. What if 30 lines weren’t a fit for his creative flow? What if he was more of a 35 or 60-line guy (if there is such a thing)? How would he ever know?
And besides, I pointed out – creativity, on cue or otherwise, takes practice. You have to keep at it in order to find your strengths & passions. There are no short cuts or ‘magic formulas’, you’ve just gotta sit there and work at it until everything is finally out on the page, by golly.
Then it hit me: I fall into the same trap, over and over again.
Not with length (I’m far too comfortable with my verboseness for that), but style. There have been moments where I’ve had to put great books down because the work is so excellent, I need to take 5 and quietly despair at the abysmal quality of my own meager scribblings.
I’ve trashed innumerable drafts that didn’t sound ‘worthy’ to me – meaning they didn’t meet the expectations I’d outlined based on how I felt about a complete stranger and their work. How bizarre, to hate something we’ve made with our own hands just because it doesn’t resemble a vision that belonged to someone else’s to begin with.
I think every creative reaches a point where they’re so underwhelmed with themselves, they want to curl up in a ball and eat oreos on the couch for the rest of their days (guilty). Sometimes, we forget how heavy ideas can be. We have to haul them around with us everywhere we go, after all. And when we write, we’re basically asking our audience ‘Hey, this is mine, but will you carry it with you please?’
Of course you want to offer that idea in a beautiful package that proves you’re ‘good enough’, whatever that standard is for you. But if you’re consumed with concerns about your delivery, then you’re no longer focused on what’s in the box in the first place. Which is the truth you’re trying to convey.
Truth is the mighty engine that powers art. Not appearance.
Never forget that it’s the the statement, the honestly-formed idea, that fuels amazing creative work – not the way it’s “supposed” to sound or feel stylistically. Have you ever heard of a post going viral because ‘Omg, this sounds exactly like that awesome post so-and-so wrote.’? Didn’t think so. And besides, no truly great thoughts ever fit into the box set for them at the start.
Every artist needs to give themselves the freedom to evolve, and the chance to become the standard. And how do you do that? By proving your worth in the idea-fueled quality of the work you continually produce on your own – not disguised as someone else.
Art takes courage. Not the white knight riding in kind of courage, but the ‘Oh god, the spotlight is on me, I have only moments to get a point across and I can’t stop sweating in weird places’ kind. If you feel shy or unimpressed by yourself, it’s ok to feel that. But when your idea is a good one, when it’s true for you, when it’s something you need to say… you have permission from the muses to lean on that.
Let go of your expectations. Just start. Then keep going.
(This post was inspired by the incomparable Alexandra Franzen, and by Cassie’s genius interpretation of it from her perch at House of Owls. I highly encourage you to check both out.)
(Go ahead. I’ll wait.)
So without further ado, in the spirit of inching that proverbial blog curtain up just a liiittle bit higher:
IF YOU REALLY KNEW ME, you’d know…
Once, in a strange twist of fate, I answered a phone and befriended a painter living in Africa. I proudly received three of his original works from Equatorial Guinea a few months later:
Here’s one of them. Terrible photo, beautiful painting.
I’m convinced Instagram blew up because it’s an easy way for people to showcase their private obsessions with beauty. This is something we need as a species.
I wrote about 20 chapters of my first fantasy novel in the second grade. They’re still floating around somewhere… physically and mentally.
I can whistle through my teeth, and even louder through my fingers.
I believe in the power of red lipstick and pencil skirts.
My first favorite color was red. Then yellow. Then blue. But now; blue, blue, blue everything in my life. All shades and shadows. Blue hair is next on the list. Stand by.
I once had two badass whiskered friends, Simon and TS Eliot. They went to new, loving homes when I moved to NYC.
As a wee Weiss, I was the first of my class to be allowed to check out chapter books from the library. I remember solemnly walking down the ‘Kid’s Chapter Fiction’ aisle feeling like I’d been given the keys to the universe. (I had.)
I just can’t get into Hemingway, no matter how hard I try. Sigh. I suspect this makes me less of a literary snaffoo.
I was born with a blocked left tear duct, which used to make my eye fog up. While the problem cleared itself, my mom gave me the nickname Misty, and has called me that ever since.
I’m a compulsive nicknamer. The names tend to stick, for better or for worse. I get it from my Mom.
I love Paris, and I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel tower twice. But I love New York City more.
In 2009, I did a field study course at The Lemur Conservation Foundation in Myakka City, Florida. I studied 8 different species of lemur in their free-range habitat; common brown, mongoose, ring-tailed, red ruff, and sanfords. It. Was. Awesome.
Me soaking up early morning rays with my favorite ring-tail, Yuengling.
I don’t dig strawberry ice cream, or mint chocolate. No, you cannot introduce me to a brand that will suddenly make me love it.
I need music. Music, music, music at all times, in all the nooks and crannies of my life & mind.
I danced for 8 years in my childhood, but was always kind of terrible at it. I’m alright with that – and continue to dance with wildly ridiculous abandon pretty much anywhere.
I play piano and can read music, but my extra petite hands are too small for more complex pieces.
I spent a night at the Hostel in the Forest three years ago, and have been dying to go back ever since.
I have a laugh that can be heard up to 100+ yards away. I find this to be a somewhat dubious talent.
I adore music festivals & the wardrobe required for them. I’ve got a drawer full of neon & metallic wear, and I’ve owned at least half a dozen full-face masks in my time.
I have no tattoos or piercings aside from my ears. This may be subject to change.
I’ve waitressed/hosted at 7 restaurants in my lifetime.
I’m not a natural redhead. My hair is actually a light blondish-brown. (Did I just blow your mind?)
I have a bizarrely long memory for rhymes. I still remember the first poem I ever memorized in my fifth grade English class.
My favorite artist is Salvador Dali (who shares a birthday with my terribly talented partner. Coincidence?). His work stretches my imagination. My favorite masterpiece is Columbus Discovering America.
Sometimes, I paint. Shyly. Mostly stuff for my friends, like this one:
My proudest work to date is an interpretation of Dali’s Rose Meditative for a friend Leigh Rose – called Leigh Rose meditative.
Again with the terrible cell phone quality photos
My favorite creature is the octopus. Big brains, and the ability to slip into almost any space and adapt to any background, unencumbered by troublesome bones and tendons. Most definitely the grooviest of all invertebrates.
I’ve been a passionate thrifter since I was 16. As a result, my closet resembles something like a supernova.
I was published for the first time this year – I wrote an essay for the End Sex Trafficking Day book called ‘Small Fish Sydnrome: a Narrative for the Comparative’.
I’m a proud member of the Literati writer’s group.
I’m a citizen of Switzerland as well as the US. My family has some very groovy little apartments there.
Toasting travel in 2009 with one of my besties.
I’m proficient in conversational French, but I’m painfully out of practice.
I once lived next door to a meditation instructor who turned my views on reality inside out. Since then, I’ve been practicing visualization techniques to help me walk around inside my own imagination like a room.
My entire family has dimples. It makes us all look very related.
My life is incredibly joyful, and I’m very blessed to be here, with you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
You didn’t think I’d really let you off that easy, did you?
So now, tell me: what are some awesomely weird/wonderful things I should know about YOU?
You know that feeling when you find a quote, and it smacks you across the brain like a ton of thought-provoking bricks?
On my internet travels last week, I stumbled upon a particularly awesome line from writer, transcendentalist, and neckbeard enthusiast Henry David Thoreau:
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
It’s the sort of truth that pushes you forward by snapping at your heels.
Here’s why it hit me so hard: the longer I write and share ideas, the clearer it becomes that my intake of information must be equal to my output if I’m going to create anything worthwhile. It’s impossible to innovate and sculpt Epic Plans when I’m huddled over my keyboard with my head down, mass producing robot-style.
I can’t just come up with concepts out of thin air. Trust me – I’ve tried. I’ve got to consciously take time to glean inspiration from the world I write about. To frolic and play. Find myself in a crowd. Daydream. Muse.
I find myself falling increasingly in love with the slow, intent-driven roast of ideas.
I’m not talking about vegetating in front of the TV for “inspiration” here. I’m talking about holding a plan – a really good one – in your mind for a long while, filling in blanks you didn’t know were there.
But it seems thinking time isn’t at the forefront of anyone’s schedule these days. There’s such a sense of breakneck urgency governing every facet of our modern lives. It’s not a stretch to assume the constant rush is helped along by our ability to communicate & gobble up information at incredibly high speeds. People are constantly pushing to produce the next thing. To be the first to break the news. To just throw it up there. To launch, because “$#@$ it, it might as well be today,”.
What a sad concern to have – to fear that by taking time to let a concept truly develop, you risk getting left in the dust… But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Not really.
It took me a full year to get this website up. Why? The copy was written, the concepts created… I just wasn’t ready. I tried to convince myself I was just fussing and getting cold feet, but eventually I stopped trying to force what wasn’t prepared to happen. I honored my process. And when I did… well, I stood up to live.
To my friends and colleagues, maybe it looked like I was just putting it off. But inside my head, I had turned my focus to the things I wanted to discuss with the world: ideas about great writing and voice, creativity, brand development, ingenuity, art, inspiration, the hilarious land of memes. I wolfed it down and gave it time to digest.
So yes, I guess you could say I delayed or procrastinated. But because I did so with intent, it turned out to be a far more powerful tool than I realized.
Stepping away from the gotta-get-it-done-now mentality can mean giving yourself space to create something truly yours.
Great things can & do happen rapidly, but they should never be rushed. Rushed means exhaustion and overlooked details. Canned personality instead of authenticity. Feeble metaphorical flailing instead of hard facts. And you, dear readers, deserve far better than that.
I like to think Thoreau would have approved.
The way you absorb the world around you has everything to do with what you squeeze back into it.
(That was a sponge metaphor, guys.).
Let’s take it over to Thoreau’s Walden for a second here.
He was huge on awareness & mindful observation as crucial components of the fully-realized human experience. He spoke often in his works about the importance of “being forever on the alert,” and of “the discipline of looking always at what is to be seen… It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look.” (Walden, IV & II)
Know what I’ve noticed? Every time I hit a creative wall, it’s because I haven’t left the apartment in way too long. Or I haven’t picked up a book in a while. Or I need to take a walk to a park, or have a conversation with an affable stranger. It’s a pretty beautiful realization to have actually, when you know you need new information to interpret as much as you need oxygen.
There’s no way to climb out of a creative hole without filling it up. You’ll just fall right back in. If you’re feeling stuck about an idea, or uncomfortable with a concept you’re about to reveal… have the courage to step back. For a day, a month, or however long you need.
It’s important to set a time limit of course, or you’ll ruminate yourself out of ever beginning. But don’t be afraid to hit pause. It might be the greatest gift you ever give yourself.
If you want the world to hear you, lean in and listen closely first.
Welcome to the freshest series from HW (which isn’t saying much, but it sure sounds cool):
This Week in Instas
I’ve been taking IGs for a little over a year now, and it’s gradually morphed from a snap-happy, look-at-this-sunset suburban time killer into a beloved hobby of preserving charmed moments that would normally pass by in a breath. It’s a diary of sorts for me – a visual illustration of where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.
While you may have seen some of my photos on Twitter and FB, I never really have the chance to tell the stories behind them. And I love telling stories. So I created this series.
I solemnly swear I will never share pictures of my lunch, fingernails, eyeballs, or any semblance of selfies taken in a local restroom. So haters, you can stay home today.
Here we go!
It’s my first Christmas in NYC, which means I’m chomping at the bit to do absolutely everything ooh-ahh tourist-y they’ve got in this fair city. Fortunately, my lovely friend Bear once again organized a 5th Ave Christmas Windows field trip for a massive group of us. It was a feast for the eyes, and I chowed down heartily. Every window wasn’t so much a glittering invitation for the affluent as it was a tribute to the immortal opulence of 5th Ave. And I can’t really say I disapprove.
This sparkling snake was wrapped around the Bvlgari store. I stood there gaping for several minutes before I took this shot (which still might not do it justice). Whoever finds me a smaller version of this to wear will receive free pizza for life.
All I have to say is: I want a tree big enough for these lights to wrap around.
Yes, we went to FAO Schwartz. Yes, I sped off like a gazelle to go find The Big Piano. I didn’t get a chance to play on it though – mostly because these two girls were having way too much fun for me to want to interrupt. So I satisfied myself with a photo. I love catching people in goofy moments like that – unguarded, amused, and vibrant. Humans enjoying life is always a sweet sight to behold.
Bear and her friend Birdy walked into this building to take a picture by the massive wreath. Paparazzi creeper that I am, I stepped in behind her to snap this. Aside from the great expression on the lovely young lady’s face, I just really like the security guards looking on in the background. They seem entertained.
Gigantic balls. There, I told your joke for you.
I took about 4 different versions of this shot from the front before I walked around the fountain and realized the immaculately lit Radio City Music Hall was hanging out in the background, as was our nation’s flag. I couldn’t resist pulling all those elements of grandeur into one shot. America!
Our next stop was the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller center. Why isn’t this a picture of a colossal tree, you ask? Because I couldn’t get a good photo for the life of me (sad trombone).
Fortunately, I looked up and spotted Mr. Atlas here a few moments later, and realized this was a terribly cliche NYC photo that I had yet to include in my repertoire. So – *click*.
Stumbling upon this polite sign in UES was simultaneously hilarious and mortifying. Why? Because according to reports, the amount of free-falling feces in this town – both human and canine – is uncomfortably significant. Ew ew ew ew ew.
But let’s all take a moment to slowly nod and smirk, because Welcome to NYC, little Florida girl, amiright?
I was heading home on the Q when I noticed a crowd gathering on the opposite platform – two hipster minstrels were serenading travelers. The gangly gent sang and strummed his guitar, and his partner accompanied vocals, and wailed on the harmonica with Dylan-like fervor. It’s rare that I remove my headphones while I’m waiting for the train, but I did for these guys. I just love the way every head on the platform turned their way. Usually people just mill around subway performers, but these guys commanded attention.
“No you don’t need to hate her,
No you don’t need to hate her,
Because I’m pretty sure she already hates hersellllllf.”
I put my headphones back on and took this photo.
THIS woman. I walked onto the relatively-crowded subway car, and noticed she took up an entire row of seats just by sitting the way she was. At first glance, she seems to be reading – but she wasn’t. She was staring at a black and white photo of an elderly man pasted onto the front of a manila folder. She was completely motionless for the next 6 stops or so before stepping off. Everything about her – the coat, the shoes, the bag, the bun, her frozen expression – it all screamed ‘Don’t interrupt me’. No one tried to sit next to her.
I dig everything about this lady here. So much unassuming fierceness being rocked in this photo. I’m not sure what I love most – her bag, her outfit, the enormous red book, or the gentle smile she held the whole time. You don’t really see people looking cheerfully calm on the subway.
I couldn’t stop looking at her. To me, she seemed like a character who stepped straight out of a novel. We got off at the same stop, and I ran after her to ask where she got her bag. She told me, but I can’t remember for the life of me. So it goes.
It was about 1 am on the 6 train, and I noticed this man was rocking OUT. Moments before I took this picture he was shredding an air guitar – that’s why I pulled out my phone in the first place. He put his arms at his sides, looked up, and I quickly pretended I was playing a really intense game of Temple Run. Thankfully, he then put his head down and began his epic invisible drum solo. Dunno if he spotted me and was playing up for the ‘camera’ or what – but I couldn’t have asked for better timing.
Alright, that’s enough outta me for one week.
Remember: this world is an enchanted wonderland full of pretty lights, strangers with great fashion sense and magical invisible instruments. (And yes, sometimes poop, apparently.) Always keep your eyes open for those day-to-day moments of beauty and amusement – they’re all around you, all the time!
If you want to see more of my shots (yay!), you can step right on over HERE.
Want some tips & editing tricks for your instagrams? Drop your name and email in the little box to the right, and you can snag my free guide, Everything You Wanted to Know About Instagram (but were afraid to ask).
Hope you have an amazing weekend.
One of the tougher sides (or “awesomeness-builders”, for those of you feeling extra positive today) of the word biz is that you’ve gotta get comfy with The Big C.
Ok, before everyone hops aboard their proverbial high horses: I don’t hate criticism. If you wan’t to get technical, I can’t hate it. I need it to learn – to thrive. And so do you.
Let me explain.
Writers: taking criticism
Writing (like all endeavors, particularly creative ones) has its ups and downs. But when you’re writing on a deadline, there’s no walking away from the blank page. When the clock strikes ‘due’, you’ve got to produce something. Sometimes, words pour out of you so easily you wonder if your blood is really alphabet soup. Other days are spent squinting laboriously into the same paragraph, trying to will the missing pieces into place.
Yet somewhere amongst the unpredictable tempests and tangles of your mind, you build your masterpiece. Brick by brick.
Then, the draft is sent in. Your work of carefully constructed words that represent an odyssey of hours, defeats and glories is handed over. Every red line is a barb. Every struck sentence, a knife to the gullet.
I know it’s about serving the client’s vision, but did they have to drop that adjective? I spent hours making sure ‘egregious’ was a fit… Oh man, I’m terrible. Why does anyone want to work with me?! The horrorrrrrrr.
At least, it is at first. With every draft and edit call, it gets easier. (It’s amazing the kind of durability the will to listen provides the spirit.)
Why? Because creative work, especially if it’s meant to be an empowered representation of another person’s voice, requires collaboration.
There comes a time in every copywriter’s life when they realize there’s no way around that. As much as we all want to hit a home run on the first swing, perfection is a hard-won reward in this business – not an automatic result. You have to keep pushing forward without repeating the same mistakes.
But there’s a huge difference between striding towards the finish line together, and feeling blindly around in the dark for it.
Clients: giving criticism
Constructive feedback must be just that – constructive. It’s the client’s responsibility to be a tuning fork for their ultimate vision. In order to do that, they must have a firm understanding of their business, and the direction of their brand.
Copywriter-users of the present and future, may I remind you: if you’re not certain of exactly what you want… you probably won’t get it.
Building a message is like building a house. If you want a mansion, you wouldn’t provide only enough materials for a garden shed, right? Even if you bring a master architect on board, there’s no way it could ever be enough.
What a lot of people don’t realize is accepting criticism is actually the easy part. It’s dishing it that’s really challenging. It’s tough to spearhead anything, and clients also falter because, well, they’re really nice people. But a truly great idea needs a powerful guiding force to drive it into reality. You have to be willing to take the wheel.
So because I try to avoid ranting without purpose…
People of the world: how to make the most of the next critique you give.
Get clear on your idea first. Then call in the big guns.
Whenever you’re starting a project, take the time to ask yourself – “Am I ready to build this? Or do I need to work on the blueprint some more?” While most writers, myself included, are always on board to swap and refine ideas, you’re responsible for 100% of the foundation. I say this not to intimidate you, but rather to help you prepare to direct a project with confidence and certainty.
Reference the draft directly.
I know this might seem obvious, but if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to pull a client back from soliloquizing into the abyss… let’s just say I’d have an extraordinarily large nickel collection. When giving a critique, it doesn’t help your writer much if you send over a paragraph response just talking about the project. Provide concrete examples.
You don’t necessarily need to go word-by-word, but let the draft act as a guide. Highlight the phrases you really like/hate, or make notes on which precise sentences need work and why. This allows your writer to get a better feel for the flow of your words, and the tone you’re going for.
Be firm, but not rigid.
This goes along with avoiding blunt points out of fear of being “mean”. You need to be forthright in your explanation of what you want, but not so stubborn that you ignore every point the copywriter chooses to raise. It’s a give and take process. Consider their professional advice, but remember at the end of the day, the decision is yours.
Please, for the love of all that is holy, leave the meaningless adjectives at home.
Ladies and gents of the internet, I think I speak for a good chunk of the creative community when I stress that words like ‘juicy’, ‘spicy’, ‘sparkle’, ‘pow’, ‘sizzle’, and ‘snap’ do not a constructive critique make. If something doesn’t resonate with you, doesn’t sound like you, or isn’t the tone you were going for, that’s fine – but we need to know why. And if you can’t come up with a reason why? Step away from your computer for an hour, think about it, and try again.
Critiques and feedback are the fuel that fires the engines of collaborative creation. They can propel an idea forward with a mighty roar, or cause it to sputter and backfire.
It really is up to you!
(Please give your computer a sec to load this! It’s trying as hard as it can.)
Once upon a time, there was a me.
It was October 2011. Cassie and I had just launched the Youngblood Sourcery website, and our first client requests began slipping into our inboxes.
Little did I know, the first few months of a business can be a bizarrely emotional time.
When you’re just starting out, every interaction is intensely nerve-wracking. Whenever I sent so much as a client email (let alone a draft), I’d stare at my screen for hours like:
When clients loved what I did, I felt fantastic…
But when they didn’t…
So I worked, listened, read, and learned with urgent velocity. I started to notice patterns, and understand my clients’ needs before they even knew what they wanted.
It got easier with time – as most things do. Word started to spread, and requests began trickling in more quickly.
Before YBS knew it, business was picking up. Our confidence grew, and we started pitching bigger and bigger clients.
(FYI: if you’ve never bid on a project before, it feels a little like serving a fine filet of your soul on a silver platter to a total stranger.)
When they responded positively, I was bullet-proof.
But when they didn’t…
Either way, my project roster began to fill up. That was wicked exciting.
I also had to adjust to the odd quirks of the freelance lifestyle.
A few examples:
During the race to the finish line in the last days before a launch, I’m drinking coffee like…
…until I feel like:
Dealing with inevitable writer’s block:
Listening to people tell me I don’t have a ‘real job’:
Working at a café to get out of the house… and forgetting there are witnesses to my chair dancing:
Finding increasingly innovative ways to procrastinate:
And discovering the weird things being a workaholic shut-in does to my brain:
But as time went on, I got tougher, better, and more disciplined.
For example, if I got a 911 client email a year ago, I’d stare at my screen with horror like:
But now it’s more like:
At last, it seems my reputation has begun to precede me… which feels fabulous.
And even though it turns my Monday morning inbox into something like this…
…it makes my heart feel like this:
So were the sleepless nights, the hours locked indoors, and the temporary descent into bona fide hermitude worth it?
Without a doubt.
Sometimes clients wonder how I do what I do. I just tell them:
Well hey there, friend/client/wanderer of the interwebs.
I’d like to take this first post to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s helped make hillaryweiss.com possible. It’s been a year in the making, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to call this sunny patch of virtual earth my web home.
A huge bear-hug shoutout to the other half of Youngblood Sourcery, Cassie, for designing this beaut. It’s been the craziest feeling to have you work your genius all up n’ over my site, and to say the least: you’ve done it again. Thanks for dreaming up this wonderland, booboo. You’re the bestest. (Also, CASSIE’S PERSONAL SITE LAUNCHES WEDNESDAY, GUYS! Stay tuned to houseofowls.com. You will not be disappointed.) Love.
BIG, BIG, BIG love to Laura Patricelli of Studio Baurealis for being so awesome and lending both gifted hands in my most dire moments. I’m eternally grateful for your finesse & badassery, and can’t wait to see even more of your work all up in ma blogosphere!
And of course my mommy, my wonderful boyfriend Monir, and my best Bear all get a massive THANK YOU as well. They’ve handled the past year of my whining & wondering with grace & heartfelt guidance. I love you.
To my clients: I never would have dreamed I’d have the privilege of working alongside a more talented, hilarious, brilliant group of people. I’m truly honored to call you all clients. Thanks for taking a chance on me, and for everything you’ve given and taught me. You guys are the greatest!
To my friends: sorry guys, this website is going to blow up your newsfeed for the rest of your natural born lives. At least I hope it does. I’ll keep my fingers crossed I can make you laugh either way.
That’s it for now. May this be the beginning of something spectacular.