Why I want to work for copyblogger…

Today I found myself reading article after article (or post after post) on www.copyblogger.com. I can’t help it. If you’ve ever read their articles then you know that it just feels like you’re having a conversation with that really good friend that just “gets you.” Well that’s how I feel.  And I want to write like that. In the words of Liz Lemon on 30 Rock, “I want to go to there.” I do. I want to be one of the elite copyblogger writers.

Just now I stumbled upon one of the more-popular articles 7 Harsh Realities of Social Media Marketing. Let’s get past that the fact that the quote came from Harsh Reality #1: No one reads your blog (cause that’s EXACTLY what I think…right now) and get into what truly sums up how I feel about blogging in general…

The world is not waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say about losing weight with acai berries, making big money as an affiliate marketer, or how to join your Secrets of the Breakthrough Millionaire Insider Guru Mastermind Platinum Club.

Agreed. Do I think my blog falls within that not-so-great club? Nah. But it’s a wake-up call. Either deliver great content every time, or be shunned by those that think you’re out to get them. Well, right now I’m not out to get anyone. Because at the moment, I don’t have anything to sell. But hey, if you’d like me to do some copywriting for you or your business, I’d be more than glad to. AND I’ll even include my email address below. Pretty crazy huh? Yeah, that’s just me putting myself out there.

Big Picture
Per usual I’ve got a long way to go. But on the plus side, my rates are REAL cheap because I’m still an Agency Underdog. So get in on the ground floor and Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

…am I giving off that creepy car salesman vibe yet? Well I just wanted to show you what I won’t be doing in the future.

Keep reading the good stuff. I’ll keep writing the great stuff.

Brian – feel free to offer me a job. I’m always looking.

(e) agencyunderdog@hotmail.com

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Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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Apple iPad is here!

Yes it’s here! And now for a quick run-down on my thoughts.

1. It looks fun.
2. It starts with an “i” so you know it’ll be very marketable.
3. It’s esentially a cross between an iPhone and a laptop.
4. It’s easy to use.
5. Steve Jobs likes it.

So am I gonna run out and buy one? You bet your a** I’m NOT going to. You heard me correctly. No. I’m not buying it. Have you been paying attention at all? I can’t just drop $600 (or more) dollars on that! What would I even use it for? I can’t put it in my purse (well, my smaller purses), and I could barely afford the laptop I have now. So you think I would run out and get a more expensive yet smaller version of a laptop? Well I just don’t have that luxury.  I’m betting most of you don’t either. I mean, really, why would you be reading this blog if you could afford something like that.

To those that can afford an iPad and will bow at Steve Jobs’ feet  for making a product that I can’t afford for another 4 years – congratulations. Well done on being able to buy fancy things. I hope it improves your life exponentially. I hope it makes you smarter, funnier, more accessible and in 3D (sarcasm? what sarcasm?).

Big Picture
Good job Apple, you made yet another product that will be forever out of my reach. Hello cell phone that my parents still pay for (No I’m not 13. I’m just smart).

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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To follow your brain or heart…

Greed

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch

Greed. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. And I’m afraid I’ve been committing it on a daily basis since I started this blog. Why am I guilty? Because I just want more! I want more comments on my posts. I want more links to my blog. And I also want more people to follow my Twitter account where I link to my blogs.

Can’t I have my cake and eat it too?
Is it wrong to want these things? I think the answer is a little complicated. If the point of a blog is just to get people to comment, subscribe or tweet about it, then you might not be doing it right. If the point of the blog is to inspire others, inform, share some lessons and encourage a community of sharing, then you may be going in the right direction.  In my heart I’d like to try and work on the latter. But my brain says “Optimize! Qualify! Increase readership at the expense of losing yourself!” (My brain also sounds like Gilbert Gottfried).

Who are you?
So it’s time to start focusing on my core audience. Who are you? Well, if I had my way you’d be a low-ranking employee in your department, someone who has to work hard to get noticed, and someone who has a dream of someday making it big. But I’m not picky. If you’re a struggling writer, or you’re a CEO that wants to see what your subordinates think of their job or you, you can definitely come along for the ride.

And the point is?
Alright, now that my core audience is found it’s time to focus on the message. Why am I doing this? I was recently asked that question by a skeptical individual (you know who you are, good sir). The point of this blog is mostly informative – showing you what an Agency Underdog goes through on a daily basis and the hard lessons that have to be learned if you’re ever going to make it to the top. But there’s a side message which is this:  You’re not alone in your struggles to make it big. Everyone goes through it and this is just one story about my trials and tribulations.

Big Picture
Take it or leave it. I’ll do my best to try and turn on audiences to what I have to say, but at the same time, I don’t want mindless corporations following me on Twitter for the sake of having followers. It hurts to be honest, but I think in the end if you stick to what you feel is right you’ll be on the right track to success.

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm  Comments (1)  

Don’t let your ego hold you back

Talk to the hand ego

Egos get the best of everyone.

I just read a great post on a writer’s ego – compliments of one of my favorite writing resources – the copyblogger. I feel the author of this post was eavesdropping on me while writing this because it’s really hard to take your ego out of the equation when you’re writing for clients, agencies or anyone else that isn’t you. Here are a few examples…

The Agency blog
I write for my agency’s blog on a weekly basis. When I first started doing this I thought it was a great opportunity to show my personality but also support the agency. Well, it works that way…to a point. There was a post I was REAL passionate about. And of course everything has to be approved before it’s posted, so I had to let my Senior look it over. I even warned her that – yes, this was a little edgy, but it’s humorous and witty, and I think it would be a great addition.

Two words. Shot down.

The article was completely revamped because it wasn’t taking a full agency stance. I could still use it, but let me tell you, it took me about a day and a half to settle down from the constructive criticism. Was this a major work of art? No. Was it going to give me a raise? No. So why couldn’t I just make the changes and move on? Because I couldn’t help but take it personally. If they didn’t like the content, then they were judging me. Well, no, that wasn’t the case. They just didn’t want to make our agency out to be something we’re not. And after I rationalized this fact, I made the changes and went on with my life.

The Website
Recently, I had to put together content for an internal staging site for a large insurance company. It was a website for their agents to pick out specific discounted advertising packages through the Agency. Pretty straight forward, didn’t have to be fluffy because it wasn’t even available to the public, but still, it was important to be clear and consistent with messaging. So I put together a couple drafts, worked off content and information that the sales team was giving me and sent it on over. 

Well, this came back with so many changes that it took another two weeks just to get everything down. Now, luckily, I’ve worked with clients directly and have gotten used to being a “yes” woman. But it was still hard to shove my ego down when the changes included making grammatically correct statements incorrect or putting hyphens where they didn’t belong.

However, I wasn’t dealing with the Insurance company, I was dealing with our sales team (who were making these preposterous changes), so I had to let it go because it would take so much more time and energy fighting them on every little change and inevitably sabotaging my future working relationship with them, then to just let them have their way.

Big Picture
So yeah – I have an ego. What writer doesn’t, though? The important thing to learn is that you will NOT get your way every single time you write something for others. Even working with other copywriters can be hard (sometimes harder) because you may not always agree with their style either.  But eventually you’ll get that book published, or you’ll get noticed and offered something better – and then hopefully you’ll be able to say that you created a great product and you’ll be humble enough to thank those for the valuable lessons that helped get you to this point.

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Becoming a better blogger

So I was reading through a great post on 40 Ways to Take Your Agency’s Blog to the Next Level and realized that I really need to learn a thing or two about blogging. At first it was just a way to tell a story about being an agency underdog. But now it’s more. I want it to be a source of inspiration for all those in my position, and to do so I really need to work on the content.

So here are my takeaways from the aforementioned list…

1. Build a community that keeps coming back for helpful, relevant content.

2. Post consistently but don’t post just to post (guilty of this. Will try harder in the future).

3. Allow your blog to become the “gateway” to your agency (As I don’t have a website yet, this will have to wait, but it works for those with agency blogs).

4. People read differently online so write for “scan-ability” (so true, and I need to start employing this technique better).

There is a lot more in the article and there are numerous articles so here are just a few more that work well for those getting started with agency blogs or blogs about agencies (myself included)…

• 40 Ways to Take Your Agency’s Blog to the Next Level(mentioned above)

• Ad Agencies: 8 Ingredients for Blog Post Success

• Agency Resources for Blogging and Social Media

And this one I especially liked but it’s not just for agency-related blogs…

• How to get traffic for your blog – Seth Godin

So here’s to not having a boring blog from this point on. I’ll write about frogs or jelly beans if that’s what the audience dictates. Stay tuned for bigger and better.

(and follow me on Twitter for more agency-related rants @agency_underdog. Thanks!)

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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Caribou, Beyonce and Oversized Headphones.

Beyonce Knowles performing

Sing it girl.

Everyone has a morning ritual. Whether it’s waking up early to take the dog for a walk, getting up with the little one, or oversleeping till the very last minute – it’s what gets us going in the morning. Mine consists of getting up at 5am, hitting the off button on my alarm, pouring my already-prepared cup of Caribou Coffee and turning on some music videos (but this isn’t the aforementioned Beyonce part).

After I chug the coffee it’s off to the gym – and this is where it’s especially important to blare some wake-me-up music. Whether it’s Beyonce or Lady Gaga, it just needs to keep me singing at the top of my lungs until I get to the gym. Then, once at the gym it’s time to put on my oversized headphones. No, they’re not of the BOSS variety, but they are padded and quite ugly. I see everyone else with their small little ear plugs. No. None of that for me. I need something that is going to block out all other sounds. And then after about 40 minutes of whatever workout I’m going for that morning, I head back home to finish the rest of the morning routine.

Why was it necessary to give you the play-by-play on my morning? Because even though my job is unstable right now (thanks to last week’s massive layoff), it’s nice to know that I have one part of my day all mapped out. And I also believe that to have a sane and healthy mind, you need a healthy body. Now, I’m no health nut, but I do enjoy working out on a regular basis. And have even thought to myself – If I put as much passion into my workout as I do to my work, I’d probably be able to perform a Half Ironman.

Fast forward to the start of my workday – I also think it’s important not to work on anything the first half hour of your morning. Usually I take this time to sift through emails from the weekend, check and see what’s on my plate for the day (which by the way is a saying I REALLY can’t stand), catch up on the latest celebrity gossip, check CNN or Yahoo for the latest news and then make some oatmeal.

What’s on my plate for today? Well it’s shaping up real nice. I got a little head start on Friday which is so nice because I know I won’t be staying late tonight. However, today should be interesting. In lieu of the massive layoffs last week (where my department only took a small hit, and everyone else got hit hard and now the resentment is being laid on thick), our Creative department (which is also part of the overall Marketing department) just hired a new Creative Director. I don’t know who he is, but if I were him I wouldn’t be too happy to be starting a couple days after our largest economic hit and then have to explain why I was hired while coworkers were laid off. Yeah, that wouldn’t be my cup-o-tea. So like I said – it should be interesting.

So to recap – try this out for a great morning:

1. Caribou Coffee
2. Jammin out to Beyonce on your way to the gym
3. Oversized headphones while at the gym
4. Celebrity gossip
5. Oatmeal – of the Raisin and Spice of Strawberry Cream variety

Well, the oatmeal beckons. But I’ll be sure to let you in on some agency happenings throughout the day.

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Do rich people deal with the DMV?

Just had a not-so-steller experience at the DMV. And yes, I do realize it’s one of the longest running jokes in our cuture’s time, but I just wonder if this is something that people like me have to deal with – or if rich people also have to go through this experience. Now – most of the time I would say – don’t go to the DMV, renew your registration online. But this was a particular situation where my presence was needed for an emissions test. And I do take some of the blame, because I didn’t have the proper paperwork. But here is what that conversation went like…

DMV guy: Renewal notice?

Me: Oh, I don’t have the actual form, but I have the renewal notice number needed.

DMV guy: Really? Let me see.

Me (pulling out paper with number on it): Here. See?

DMV guy: That’s not the number we need.

Me: Well, what number do you need.

DMV guy: Your VIN number.

Me (which by the way, I’m sitting in my car just so you get the irony of this situation): Umm, it’s listed right on my car.

DMV guy: Well you don’t have it, and there are about eight cars behind you that do have it. You need the proper form, go in the office, move it along.

Me (jaw hung open): Wow. Thanks for your help.

ARGH. So needless to say after about another hour I finally got what I was looking for. But I still wonder if there are services for rich people. Like – is there a pamphlet that the DMV sends you after you reach a certain tax bracket that says, “Welcome to the good life, you’ll know be entitled to a pleasurable experience with the DMV – Let us know how we can make your life better.”

I bet there is.  Maybe if I knew any rich people I could ask them. Or I can just wait till I reach that tax bracket…which will be a VERY long time.

Anyways. Rant done. Feeling better.

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stephen King will not read this but I get why.

Stephen Kings, "The Dark Tower - Book 7"

Stephen King - just hear me out...

No one ever tells you how hard it will be. Scratch that. Everyone tells you. Bloggers tell you. Copywriters tell you. Hell even Stephen King tells you. But you won’t listen. You’ll bullishly put yourself out there, hoping that something may catch. But it really doesn’t sink in exactly how hard it will be until you try. Well, this is me trying to become a writer. And failing quite successfully. How long have I been trying? Really trying? Honestly – a couple of days. Not even a week. If you stopped reading for lack of sympathy I understand.

I do know one thing though, writers gotta write. So I guess I’m doing okay in that aspect, so far. And I’ll keep building on it. But where I get stuck is writing what I want to write, not what other people want me to write. Correction, I like writing for the agency. It gives me a sense of purpose. It’s fulfilling. It’s even a living. But my soul doesn’t yearn to create content for a moving and storage website (though I’m quite good at it).

And I’m sure countless respected copywriters will tell me to work the system. Start with small projects. The little $15 writing jobs where you talk about assembling a bike, or how to sell a moped on eBay. And I’m not looking for a shortcut. I just don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m groveling for a $30 copywriting project by showing them my portfolio of $15 copywriting jobs.

I want to inspire others. Provide some thrills. I want to write a gory futuristic novel that would make Stephen King believe that there is a shred of hope for our generation. I’d love to be published. I’d love just to write a novel that no one reads just to say that I wrote a novel. It’s all I can hope for at this point.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? If there is I’m a long way from seeing it. Anyone else struggling to make their way through the darkness?

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 3:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Done feeling sorry…it’s time for a drink.

I want to lighten things up as the last two blogs have been a bit on the suicidal side of things. So first things first. No more “woe is this economy.” Because one thing I learned from the endless meetings today is that – it’s our industry.  Yeah, the economy sucks – but it’s exponentially bad for our business because we invested 40 years in a media that is becoming extinct. Cutbacks are inevitable. And that’s the last I’m going to comment on this.

So on to what makes my life worthwhile. Happy hours.  Hah. Okay, you may be thinking – You really ARE a Wisconsin girl. Well, I can’t lie. The stereotypes are true. I love to drink. I do it pretty often, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t drink. I’m not an alcoholic. But I just think happy hours are one of my favorite team-building exercises. It’s like we purposely put ourselves into this elite club. Not many make it into our department (and from what you know about me, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be at times), but if it weren’t for how happy this job and my co-workers make me – I would have left about 2 years ago.

My first out-of-college job was for a position that was misleading.

Them -You’ll be an editor working on law books.

Me – Exciting!

Them – Oh, actually you’re going to be a publishing specialist doing data entry.

Me – oh.

I’m not knocking it. It’s a way to make a living. But I had a specific career goal in mind. And this wasn’t it. So what did I do? I gave it a year and then moved to Milwaukee and took the first job to “get my foot in the door.” Well my foot has been in that door for over 2.5 years now. But you know where they got me? With the morale!!! I can’t quit a job where I love my co-workers, respect my managers/VPs/CEOs (for the most part), and have SOOOO much fun. Talk about a work/life balance. It’s more of a life created from my work balance. And it’s been a great ride.

So I’m hoping that I can use that escape to get me through this rocky year. And for those who haven’t gotten to know your coworkers? Well set up a happy hour and get to it! It’s the best medicine. Besides medicine.

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 2:49 am  Leave a Comment  

The aftermath.

Now more than ever I need people to hear my story. Today was a big punch in the stomach to everyone remaining in our company and the message was two-fold:

1.  Make it work or get out. 2010 is gonna be rough.

2.  If you’re not needed then your expendable, this is just a warning.

This was basically the jist of what were told in an all-employee meeting at the agency this morning (and there are two more meetings scheduled for later today. Overkill much? Pun not intended).  Now it just so happens that the cubicle I reside in is right next to a VP’s office (not my superior, but a different VP) and I just overheard even more conversations about other cuts planned. So yeah, 2010 IS gonna be rough. More cutbacks are inevitable and now I’m left to defend my position to the death.

Surprisingly I’m okay with that. I would always like to be looked at as a valued employee. One that creates a need. But there’s one big selfish stipulation to all of this. I haven’t had a raise in 2 years. Seriously, the last 80% of the time I’ve dedicated to this place has been sans raise. I’m salaried so that means I work overtime – a lot, and if you worked it out hourly, I’d probably be making more at the fast food job I held in High School.

So it really boils down to these three questions:

1.  Can I afford to stick it out another year with this company not
     knowing when (if ever) I’ll get a raise in the future?

2.  Would it be more costly to look for another position in this
      economy,  and can I chance it?

3.  Is Arby’s hiring?

Right now I can already tell you the answer. It’s not the one you’ll like – but it’s the one that’s the safest. Yes, I am going to stick it out. I am going to prove my value and I will become a necessity. I may not get paid anything more than what I’ve got now but in tough times you either need to stick it out or be brave enough to try it alone. And I’m not that brave. And I’m quite envious of those who are making their way through the muck that is this economy.

So right now there is no certainty with my position. Which sucks. But I know I’m not alone in that boat.

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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