New Kid on the Block
I was a classroom teacher before entering the world of marketing. As I write this, a new academic year approaches, and I'm reminded of those lively first days of school: crisp notebooks, spotless sneakers, the promise of autumn in the breeze… Students are excited to see their peers again, and, for a time anyway, they're even excited to learn!
New beginnings open us up to learning and fresh perspectives. That's certainly been the case during my first 90 days as a Content Writer at Click Rain. In this post I'll share just three of the most relevant lessons I've begun to learn since starting.
3 Lessons in 3 Months
1. Teamwork Makes It Work
When I started at Click Rain, our city was taking its first strides toward return to "business as usual" after months of COVID-19 shutdowns. The whole office had gone remote, and many team members were still working from home on my first day. It was an unusual time, but I quickly learned that Click Rain had not let social or virtual distance get in the way of collaborating as a team.
My first-ever virtual IT onboarding session was seamless. (Thanks, Brady.) Other teammates reached out over Slack to say hello or answer my questions. I noticed that, while every department had its own unique responsibilities, everyone worked together to get stuff done. And that's what teams are supposed to do.
It wasn't long before I had team members asking me—the new guy—to edit or proofread their writing: "Please wordsmith this. This needs some finessing. Need Cameron to make this better." Of course, I knew that was all in my job description. But it was refreshing to see such openness to collaboration from my new colleagues. Teamwork takes trust and humility. When your teammates trust you to do your job, you begin to feel integral to the operation as a whole, and you develop a healthy dependence on others.
We writers are notoriously sensitive about sharing our work. We get enamored with our precious sentences and shiver at the thought that what we have written could possibly—gasp!—need improvement. Alter so much as a comma, and I'm morally offended. I suspect this applies to many areas of work, creative or otherwise. The solution, however, is not to refuse all feedback from others, but to trust that our teammates have our best interest in mind, and the interest of the clients we all work together to serve.
- Work together
- Trust your teammates
- Don't let a pandemic get in the way of either
2. Brevity is the Soul of Copywriting
My second lesson is trade-specific, but if you ever write anything, keep reading.
Web writers attempt to "write like people talk." And for good reason. Most of us don't engage in routine long-form reading online. The internet is a resource for snatching fast information. So if you want readers to actually read what you write, the reasoning goes, you should be accessible, conversational, and nowise esoteric. This is especially true for copywriters, whose words are meant to convince and convert.
But here's the thing—we all know that compelling writing is clear and concise, two words which do not accurately describe how most people talk. When we talk, we ramble. We stumble over "likes" and "ums." We inadvertently stuff our sentences with superfluous adverbs. And that's all fine, but it raises the question: should we really write like we talk?
Yes and no. Yes, if you want readers to engage with your web content, you should use familiar words, words within their vocabulary. (This is especially important for SEO, by the way. I don't know about you, but my Google searches are anything but sophisticated. E.g. tacos near me. More on that here.) So, use shorter sentences. Strive to be friendly and helpful.
On the other hand, writers, especially copywriters, should pursue brevity and exactness with words. Powerful writing is concise and direct. A good headline communicates through what it says, a great headline through what it doesn't.
- When revising your writing, be sure to cut out all of the unnecessary words
- When revising writing, cut unnecessary words
- Cut words
3. People-First Matters
Finally, a note about culture at Click Rain. Like a new kid at school, I've been attentive to the dynamics and routines that turn the gears at this place. I knew that Click Rain claimed to be "people-first," but I didn't really know what that meant until recently. Let me explain.
Actually, it might be more helpful to first explain the opposite. The marketing and advertising industries can have rather cutthroat reputations (confirmed in the imagination by popular shows like Mad Men). Long hours, breakneck pace, no work/life balance to speak of… That industry tends to put profits first, not people. True, marketing is about selling and promoting products and services, but even products and services are intended for people. I'm learning that people-first means creating a vibrant work environment where real people are valued over everything else, both the people in the office and the people we call "clients."
Thankfully, I know my learning won't stop after 90 days, because people-first environments foster continual personal and professional growth. Really, I'm just getting started. So here's to a more people-first world of marketing, and perhaps even a more people-first world.
- Build relationships
- Do work that serves real people
- Give thanks
Sometimes new beginnings help us see things as they truly are. When it came to my first three months of onboarding at Click Rain, I saw a lot of remarkable things. But new beginnings can be overrated, too. The real fun's in teamwork over the long haul, in sustaining healthy work habits, in writing (and revising) better sentences day after day after day…
So, if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do.