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Is It "just A Job" Or Do You Have To Believe?
Posted 26 September 2003 - 07:41 AM
When it comes to writing copy, is it "just a job" or do you have to believe in the product/service you're writing about?
For instance, if someone came to you with a site promoting a religious belief (or whatever) that you disagreed with... could you or would you take the project? Could you or would you push aside personal beliefs in order to help this person make sales? Or, is it just another job that pays the light bill?
For the sake of argument, let's say that this is nothing illegal; the contact is very nice, polite, and prompt; and the client has no problems spending money.
What would you do?
Posted 26 September 2003 - 07:56 AM
I wouldn't take the job. Not only would I feel bad about helping some organization I didn't approve of, but I doubt I'd really be able to do a good job for them.
My former employers had a client I thoroughly disapproved of. The bosses weren't crazy about this organization either, but they didn't feel as strongly about it as I did, and I don't think that they shared my idealistic notions, so they probably would have taken on the client even if they had agreed with me about them.
I had to work on that project, so I had to tell myself that I was working for my bosses, and not for their client.
On my web site I mention that I sometimes take on pro bono work, and that one of the criteria for picking a client to help for free is that I have to actually want to help them. I don't talk about that factor when it comes to paid clients, and so far the issue hasn't come up.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 08:00 AM
I wouldn't hire someone who puts on a game face...just to fake it.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 08:01 AM
For me, I would have to at least somewhat buy into the belief if I was going to write about it. Since I'm not a copywriter, I don't have to deal with that issue.
As far as taking on a client for SEO where I might not believe in whatever they're pitching, that's a different story. I can definitely do that, and in fact, have in the past.
But trying to write about it, I think that would be much harder.
I have a pretty liberal attitude towards most things, and don't have a problem with promoting adult products, or that sort of thing, but I probably wouldn't want to write the descriptions!
I've done site reports for an adult product site, but didn't want to take on the full SEO work for it. I think doing a review and doing the actual work is a bit different, possibly because of the copywriting aspect. (I wasn't sure Karon would want to do that kind of writing either and might have had to find someone else for that one!)
Other stuff that I feel is illegal, like online gambling, I just won't do out of principle.
I have done a site report for a religious organization who's beliefs are definitely not in synch with mine also.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 08:10 AM
Posted 26 September 2003 - 08:25 AM
I know that I do a better job when I love their products and/or services. Sometimes, I'll go over the client's premises or ask them to send me the product so I can look it over and try to get inspired. If I don't think I'll do a good job, I'll tell my manager that I don't recommend putting me on the job.
However, because I currently work for an agency, I have very little choice over the projects that I'm assigned to. Usually, they try to be flexible but if I'm the only one available, then I have to do it. That's when I separate myself from my emotions and craft well balance copy for clients. Sometimes by concentrating on the craft of creation, I'm able to psyche myself into getting excited over the structure of the copy rather than the message that is being sent.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 08:44 AM
We did another recent project where a company sold prescription drugs from Canada - a thing that the government is taking a very hard look at. It is not entirely illegal (yet) but definitely will get the government on one's back. I genuinely wanted to see this company succeed as well. It was short term though as the feds did eventually shut them down and the owner is now doing time for defrauding people.
I will not waste any time with someone offering multi-level marketing stuff such as "work from home," "pyramids," etc.
I also will not touch sites that contain any kind of nudity (unless medical like cosmetic surgery), gambling and racial issues.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 08:47 AM
I might not like the style of shoes a store wants to promote this month, but - of course - I'll take the gig.
But on "moral" issues or "ethical" issues... I have to have some foundation. (And no, Jill... Karon does not write adult sites ) I also couldn't write for a political candidate whose views I didn't agree with.
I have to take it case-by-case, I think. If it were some "cult" or radical organization I was just totally against, I wouldn't and couldn't do the work.
Like many have said, copywriting has to hit an emotional note with readers. In order for me to write copy that does that, I have to have at least some belief in the product/service I'm writing about.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 09:07 AM
As Janis Joplin said, "Don't compromise yourself; you're all you've got." :halo:
Posted 26 September 2003 - 09:36 AM
There are gray areas, that I take on a "case by case" scenario. I have turned down projects in which marketers asked me to write sales letters for their ebook, because after reading it, I said, "I don't believe you're offering a good value, and I can't promote this."
Another gray area: natural health products. Because my specialty is medical writing, I get asked to promote natural health product/alternative health products quite a bit, including one firm that is a household name. But while the products may be beneficial, most of them don't have double-blind clinical studies showing their true effectiveness. But there are tons of subjective testimonials from those who say it really does help.
I look at each product, and see if it really does have intrinsic value. I even try it out awhile myself (I like to see, touch, and sample products before writing about them whenever possible). I'm careful to never claim that the product heals a disease or cures a condition, which is false advertising (while we have all heard that Chamomile tea is soothing and calming, unless there are clinical trials in the U.S., Canada, or Europe on this effect, I can't claim this...)
This for me is the real tough spot. And I refuse to work with any company that creates false testimonials (you wouldn't believe how many people do these types of things...it's incredible and very disillusioning...some even have doctors they PAY to be on their "board" and endorse their product, and the doctor does it, knowing full well that the product hasn't been officially proven).
I have taken on less and less alternative health clients recently as a result, because of this "gray area" for me. Those I do, I screen very, very carefully.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 09:47 AM
It's a case-by-case thing. My need for money and business may well encourage me to become more impassioned about difficult-to-write-about topics. And yes, I could always focus on the craft of writing if I found it tough. You don't have to believe something to believe it enough to write passionate copy about it.
And, for the record, I'd have no trouble writing for an adult site!
Posted 26 September 2003 - 09:56 AM
I wouldn't hire someone who puts on a game face...just to fake it.
How would you know?
Sheri... good points. I make no qualms about telling people I'm a big "God fan," (as I put it), but at the same time, I'm not a perfect person. While I am a Christian and do the best I can, I make mistakes and have bad habits just like every other human on this Earth.
But, as you (and Bill) said, if something crosses the line I have to hold my own. While I may not be perfect, I DO have a few principles I stand by.
I don't drink, but it doesn't bother me if others do. (I don't want you barfing on my shoes, please, but if you drink it's your business.) My husband drinks, my mom & dad, my sister and her husband, friends drink... I don't care. It wasn't a religious decision that made me stop drinking... it was a personal choice. (Mainly because I drank enough in college to last 4 lifetimes and had just had enough.)
Now, does that mean I'd write copy for Budweiser? Nah.
Edited by copywriter, 26 September 2003 - 10:08 AM.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 11:55 AM
On a slightly different topic, do you do SEO for a site that has poor products, bad design, and no real business plan?
I've been asked to work on some pitiful sites that I could not see how they could be helped without a total revamping of the goals, the design, and the product. I've told them that in order for me to work on the site, it would take X amount of work, starting from scratch. Some try and argue, some just find someone else.
Now, that's just my opinion and I've been known to be wrong :stunned: but I don't feel right taking money for work that isn't likely to show a return for the client. More traffic, yes. More sales? Most likely not.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 12:15 PM
Another reason is that it'll get you a bad reputation and quick. Even if you do tell the client that their site needs a lot of help in other areas besides SEO and copywriting, if what they hired you to do doesn't work, you'll get the blame.
Posted 26 September 2003 - 12:19 PM
If they tell me they only want me to work on a few aspects, I'll do what I can with what I'm given to work with. The site will end up better, but it won't necessarily be the best it can be. For what it's worth, it will give them something to start with. If they want to build on the changes I make for them (or bring me back to finish the job), a total overhaul will be easier for them.
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