I have a pen… therefore I am a copywriter

It’s amazing how often people who’ve called to discuss the possibility of having some work done feel the need to excuse themselves by saying something to the effect of “I usually write this kind of thing myself but I don’t really have the time at the moment.”

Implicit in this is the idea that you will accept that the speaker is perfectly capable of doing on an amateur basis what you do for a living, but is just a tadge pushed at present and so is going to get you to do this for him. It won’t be better when you do it. It won’t work harder. It won’t give him a business advantage. It’ll just save him some time. Otherwise he’d do it and his version, presumably, would be just as good as yours.

Do these people do this to their copywriter only, or also to other professionals?

“Hi. I would do our tax accounting and annual return myself, but I’m a bit pushed so I thought I’d come to you. Being an accountant.”

“Hi. I thought I’d have time to structure my own defense and handle all the protocol in this multi-million pound claim being made against us… but I’ve got quite a bit come up…so I thought I’d come to you. A lawyer.”

“I was going to sew up my hernia myself, actually, Doctor. But I don’t really have time so perhaps you could do it?”

You’d think, at the very least, that the culprits would understand how unmotivating this is.

Are you more likely to give your best to clients who begin by telling you that they believe your skill and experience are worthless but that your time is less valuable than theirs? Or to clients who start you off with the news that they believe your skills are capable of driving their business in ways otherwise unachievable?

3 Responses to “I have a pen… therefore I am a copywriter”

  1. Mike Fawcett

    Brilliant! I could not agree more!!! It’s amazing that people feel perfectly within their rights to comment on the creative process. I work in marketing in a software house where there’s a developer who always looks over my shoulder and makes some banal comment. Just imagine if I went round to his desk and said “That code is never going to compile in a million years!” Preferably followed with a sharp slap upside his head Some day….some day…..

  2. Claire McCarthy

    Completely agree! I get the same feeling whenever people ask what I do for a living and I tell them I’m a copywriter. Even when I have explained what a copywriter does they look bemused as though it is some sort of made up job…

  3. Rebecca Rosier

    This comment may, or may not be relevant. I haven’t decided yet.
    I know a copywriter who doesn’t like to read, and doesn’t intend to, ever.
    I asked her how she can write, or how she wants to write, if she’s not interested in reading what other people have written?
    I think she may have misunderstood a little, and answered:
    ” I can talk, can’t I?”
    I wondered to myself why she didn’t take up telesales in that case.
    What do you think? Can writing and reading be exclusive? I suppose that if you were writing for radio, or TV, then being able to ‘talk’ is great.
    Anyway, this CHAT magazine isn’t going to read itself…