It was cold, quiet, and I had no internet connection...
Getting away is not just about taking time off. I can do that while staying home.
In my opinion, "getting away" is breaking the patterns of your routine to reflect, refocus and get back on track.
It's easy to lose your perspective when your "every day" feels like Groundhog Day, causing you to forget your purpose, your identity, and the meaning you ascribe to your efforts and to life.
So, I decided to go to the mountains for a few days, alone to contemplate in isolation, step back, and see the big picture.
Not a writers' retreat per se, but this secluded retreat up in the mountains, in an almost completely abandoned village, was my choice of sanctuary for a while.
The sense of detachment and timelessness was all I needed to unwind, generate a few "aha moments" and get a lot of writing done. I covered several thousands of quality words, as well as a bunch of good notes and voice recordings for my upcoming book on motivation.
I even finished "reading" one audiobook on psychology, and I read the first part of a hard-copy book on real estate! Hard copy! Remember those?
I even did some hiking that reminded me of what it felt like to have that innocent child-like sensation of exploring and discovering the world.
Either you're a writer or not, I highly recommend experiences like these. Travelling alone can reveal many things to you about your own psyche, things that the distractions of everyday life can keep buried.
Now it's Monday, I'm back at work, but I feel more relaxed, focused and on a clear course towards my goals.
I suggest that you get away more often, away from locations, situations and people. Only then can you appreciate the things that truly matter to you.
2020 New Year's wishes from your friendly neighborhood Cyprus copywriter (plus one of my stories...)
Oh boy! Another year, another fairy tale.
We all have story to tell in this journey called life.
Looking back, now as a dedicated copywriter based in Cyprus, I recall my career path as it unfolded from the direction laid out by university to my struggle to secure a white-collar job in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, to my "wow moment" and realization that smart work is really what brings success, not hard work.
I was taught as a child that success was always the result of hard work, that even those who seemed like they were handed their riches by chance, that they actually had to work to earn and keep them.
So I studied hard to acquire the necessary degrees, or simply put, pieces of fancy paper with the signature of someone who had never met you certifying that you passed some generic tests in some generic subject. Nobody had told us that it wasn't the degree that counted but what skills you gained while acquiring said degrees.
When I was focusing hard on memorizing every sentence in my textbooks while doing irrelevant odd jobs just to get by, others weren't as interested in grades. They instead focused on unpaid internships, relevant volunteer work, networking and extra-curriculum activities and skill development. They were reading books on subjects outside the confines of their discipline because they knew that studying (per the Pareto principle) has diminishing returns, and therefore, it was more efficient to invest some of their mental energy into other subjects instead on focusing it all on one.
When I entered the white-collar labor force in 2009, I was stunned by how quickly people dismissed my hard work (1 BSc, 1 PG Dip and 1 MSc). They didn't care how hard I had worked to get them. And I didn't understand at the time why I wasn't really entitled to anyone owing me anything for working hard and not being able to provide value to anyone with that hard work.
I felt like I had wasted years breaking rocks and not really creating any value at all...
The harsh reality is that no one gets paid according to how hard they work. We all get paid according to the value we provide to the one paying us. This is why celebrity football players get paid in the hundreds of millions; that's the value they provide to the guy who signs their checks!
So, I concluded that working hard was BS. Sure, you need to be able and willing to work hard when that's required, but what's important is to work smart first.
Otherwise no one would have invented the wheel by now!
This brings me to WHY I do what I do. Simon Sinek, one of my most influential mentors, coined the "golden circle" that highlights the importance of WHY we do something to those who buy from us.
Why am I into copywriting?
Because writing copy is all about working smart, it's all about extracting as much juice out of your marketing campaigns (and you entire business) as possible with less effort.
And in doing so, I'm helping others work smarter instead of harder, with higher conversions, more sales, and with even less marketing and advertising costs.
In 2020, I aim to work even smarter in the way I allocate my time in my professional and my personal life. I aim to further improve my copywriting skills to provide even more value to those who acknowledge the NEED for outstanding copy, and who WANT to work smarter rather than harder.
Tips for working SMARTER:
1. Find the easiest route to accomplish what you want to do.
2. Apply the Pareto principle (or 80/20 rule).
3. Use time management tools, like Asana.com, or even plain old post-its!
4. Schedule "chill time" in your daily agenda.
5. Subscribe to my newsletter for occasional tips on how to write smarter and better. 🙂
I hope you have a great, healthy and joyful 2020, and that you achieve and exceed every goal for it!
It is said that copywriting is the common ground between absolute arrogance and crippling self-doubt. So, even copywriters need some motivation and inspiration from time to time.
How better to revitalize your drive and boost your aspirations than attending a TEDx event?
This Sunday, I attended TEDx by UNIC, with the expectation to get motivated and inspired. And I was not disappointed.
Not only did the speakers provide fresh ideas and unique perspectives, but some of them gave me the spark I needed to start developing new content for my blogs and YouTube channels. And yes, I have other online personas other that this professional copywriter services website.
TEDx was full of people just like me, optimists and empaths who look deeper inside stories and meanings, trying to make sense of our reality and the human condition to make our lives, as well as humanity in general, a little better, one word at a time.
I admired their speaking skills, their communication skills, and of course, their individual accomplishments through their lives' work.
What struck me was the positive vibe of the audience and the energetic beat of the entire event. Everything was marvelously organized and presented, and it was an exceptional opportunity to discuss, network, and meet new amazing people.
Until the next one! Thank you, TEDx.
Friends have been telling me for years that all copywriters and marketers should watch the Mad Men series at least once in their lives. Not for the anticlimactic story arcs or the free-loving nostalgia of the 1960s, but for educational purposes.
And they were right! The show takes place during the golden age of advertising in the 1960s in the States, and not only does it provide a great history lesson on how advertising, marketing and PR evolved, but it also gives out useful real-life tips and examples of great ad copy.
I just finished watching the series, and I must say that I enjoyed all those ad copywriting insights and tricks subtly sprinkled over each season. Having said that however, I did expected more marketing tips and examples, even though they were indeed invaluable, to be fair.
I loved the David Ogilvy references, the historical accuracy of milestone events, the retro cars and the gorgeous 1960s women's hairdos.
What blew my mind was a scene where Don Draper asserted that sex didn't really sell. This came up when hotshot copywriter newbie Peggy Olsen presented an airline ad idea that focused on the sex appeal of a flight attendant. Don was skeptical, and called her out on her cliché, suggesting that using sex in advertising was lazy, cheap, and not as relatable as people thought (other that turning heads for a split second).
Don proceeded to explain that what really worked in advertising was relatability and emotions deeper than carnal desires. And his idea was [spoiler warning!] to instead show in the ad a family welcoming the father after a flight, with one of the children saying, “What did you bring me, daddy?”
Genius copywriting! That kind of relatability makes a much deeper impact than what Peggy had originally thought.
Other elements of the series that resonated with me as a copywriter were the strenuous but necessary back-and-forth with clients, the fact that good ad ideas sometimes come to you when you're out drinking, and that writing is actually very hard and lonely, without too many people knowing that that's the case.
Now I am left wondering which series to start watching next...
Copywriters never rest because writing (and doing anything creative, for that matter) is an ongoing process that constantly evolves and changes based on increasing societal complexity, trends, technology, knowledge, and who knows what else!
This is why I constantly invest in self-improvement and growth, devouring relevant books, mastering courses, consuming authoritative blogs, signing up to industry-leading newsletters, and so on. Developing my copy and marketing skillset is the most enjoyable part of my day, after client satisfaction, of course.
On that note, let me just announce that I have just completed HubSpot Academy's Content Marketing course. It is a course I recommend for any business owner, regardless of size, field, or how many years they are in the market. Content marketing is not only for marketers. It is for every one with a business or personal brand. Completing the course comes with a certification by HubSpot too!
The course covers the up-to-date fundamentals of the "rules" of content marketing and how it's done, complete with guidelines, tools and real-life practical examples to get you started no matter what your knowledge is on marketing. Even seasoned content marketers will find more that one points useful for them.
The Content Marketing course is free, but don't think for a second that its price represents its value. Aren't the best things in life free, after all? HubSpot is not in the business of selling courses. Actually, these courses are part of their content marketing to generate leads for their core business, proving their expertise in content marketing. Now that makes them experts in the subject, in my eyes!
Go ahead and visit HubSpot Academy and sign up. It's challenging, but it's professionally structured and presented in a friendly easy-to-follow manner that will get you there in no time!
Just a caveat, though: HubSpot’s Content Marketing course is not easy. You need to pay attention to each detail spoken by the instructors in the training videos. The exam has some trick questions that can confuse you if you’re not completely onboard with the respective subject.
in the end, you will enjoy the course and by the time you finish it you’ll be overloaded with ideas on how to apply what you’ve learned to your marketing strategy. Make sure to take notes on these ideas as they come. They will be numerous!
Branding is hard to quantify. But we need it.
It reinforces the perception people have of you, your business and why you do it.
it creates lasting impressions that generate leads or keep prospects in an orbit around you, like a prospect flywheel, until they are ready to see how you can help them with their success.
Branding solidifies this image. It might not get your direct sales, like marketing and business development, but it checks boxes in their minds: who is this business, do they tend to their image, have they invested in a reputation, will they work hard to maintain such a reputation?
Long story short, I was excited the other day be part of the branding efforts of the company for which I work as resident copywriter. Check us out on Instagram!