When a Keyboard Falls Silent
There’s nothing as irritating and uplifting as the click click click of a keyboard on fire. It’s irritating as a writer because you just can’t type fast enough to keep the words flowing, but you know, the uplifting part is that you’re doing the thing. You’ve not gotten yourself all plugged up and distracted over something else. That’s pretty swell.
There’s nothing as deafening as one that’s fallen silent.
Over the years, the writing community I belong to has lost a lot of friends and collaborators. I could name each one and the year it happened, but I think it’s best that I don’t in the interest of time. But, of course, you don’t have to lose a writer to a premature death for their keyboard clacking to end.
There have been plenty of illnesses that have taken favorites from our midst.
A Keyboard Silenced at ITC
In early April, a member of team In The Cloud Copy suffered a stroke and ended up in the intensive care unit at her friendly neighborhood hospital. I knew something was wrong, I just knew it… she had never once failed to deliver early. And in those days that followed, I’d ping her and get nothing back.
What they thought would be a week in the hospital and a stint in a rehab facility to get her back on her way has turned into three-ish weeks in ICU. She’s had surgery to try to reduce the swelling in her brain, and I understand she’s on a ventilator now to try to give her help finding the energy for healing.
She is not well. And the hollowness created by the silence of her keyboard has been so deafening. Some days it’s all I can hear. And while she’s still with us, she’s far from her second family and there’s nothing we can do to help her except to support her first family as much as we can.
“Business Is Business…”
I finally had to bring two new writers onto a project that she was heavily invested in. It was a hard call. It wasn’t exactly saying, “Hey, chick, you’re sick, so screw you,” but it kind of felt that way. Of course, if she’s ever able to come back to work, she’s gonna be welcomed with a mfing parade. But even I am starting to wonder if that is a day that will really come.
The funny thing is that if this was anybody else on the team, she’d have told me that “business is business.” And then she’d kick the shit out of me for being too emotionally invested. She would, trust me on this. She’s a mean old lady.
Let’s Play the “What If?” Game
The sad part is that the version of her in my head is right, she is. So in her honor, I’m having no qualms turning this story into a life lesson for you and your business.
See, I know that a lot of companies like yours rely on the keyboards of freelancers. And it’s kind of a no-brainer in the short term. After all, you can usually find someone who can write a few very bland words on Fiverr for a fiver. I do get it.
But I also know that most decision-makers don’t really know what they’re getting with freelance writers. Part-timers. Moonlighters. I know what ultimately comes with relationships between companies and freelancers because I’m elbows-deep in this business and its inner circles.
So, let’s play the “What If?” Game.
- What if your freelancer were to have a stroke and end up in the hospital? You don’t have a real relationship with them; would you even know how to get them on the phone if you had to?
- What if they failed to deliver something that had absolutely no breathing room built in? That client is going to be letting somebody know that you’ve screwed up big time.
- What if (and God forbid) they died and no one told you? Do you have a backup plan besides doing the work yourself in a frenzy at 3 a.m.?
- What if they went behind your back and connected with a client of yours directly? Hopefully you saved enough money with that freelancer to make up for the lost margin.
I guess my point here is that working with a freelancer is a huge gamble. It’s one you make every day. Sure, there are brilliant ones out there, but they’re not going to be the Fiverr variety.
These people know that they’re like magical butterflies that leave shimmery silver letters in their wake as they flap across the digital realm.
They also charge accordingly.
If you have never considered what might go wrong with a freelancer, now is the time to ponder it. That’s a relationship that has a lot of elements to weigh very carefully because it can easily cost you a lot more than you’ll ever save.
Not a Shameless Plug: How We’re Handling Our Silent Keyboard
I spent the first week after my writer’s stroke in denial. Of course she was going to be fine. This woman was indomitable. Absolutely the tough-as-nails frontier type, quietly semi-retired to Florida.
*whispers* Probably a vampire.
I knew I had to do something in the second week. We started dividing up her load, sending her work to writers who were already servicing similar clients with the understanding that if she came back, those were going back to her. The current reassignments were just holding her place.
I don’t know how much I really believed she’d be up to returning to work at that point, but we don’t leave men behind. We just don’t if we can help it. And subbing for her for a month or two? That’s easy stuff (and, of course, I let the clients know they weren’t getting their normal writer this month due to illness).
All of this got me thinking about the value a copywriting firm brings to a business relationship. Especially one where the client has never hired a writer who wasn’t freelance. It’s like trying to compare delicious Amish cheddar to Velveeta. They are so different that it’s incredibly difficult to even put them side by side.
Basically, they’re both orange and that’s it.
(Incidentally, that’s my favorite kind of cheese, if anyone was curious. Amish hoop cheddar. It’s really hard to find here in Texas, but I bought it by the brick in Missouri. Those Amish cheesemakers know their stuff.)
Ditch the “What If?” Game
There’s a big difference between having a plan in place in case things go south and just standing around watching chaos approaching from the distance with your binoculars. Freelancers might feel like the right choice in the moment, what with their fancy pricing and lack of pants, but when they have to choose between their regular job and your work, which do you think they’re going to choose?
I mean, they might not ditch you entirely, but they’re not going to put their back into it. When it’s their kid’s softball game or your content package that absolutely has to be on your desk first thing Monday morning when you get to work, which door do they open?
For copywriting agencies, you are treated like the one and only priority. Sure, we have other clients, but we also have systems in place to help keep production flowing. We spend money for the tools it takes to keep bottlenecks to a minimum, and we work closely enough together to be able to take over projects in a pinch if something goes wrong (like with our sick writer).
A copywriting agency — a good one, at least — is interested in more than your money, it’s interested in your business’s long-term health. As long as the two of you have a business relationship, the more you grow, the more your copywriting agency can grow. It turns into a healthy sort of collaborative project as you expand together. It’s quite something, really.
CALLING YOU TO ACTION: This Is the Offer Part
I know it probably sounds like hiring an agency is an expensive move, but when you choose In The Cloud Copy, we hope you’ll rest a bit easier. We can provide you with services you may not even realize can come from copywriters, from content strategy to social media campaigns and even a heavy dose of SEO that’s actually effective.
Right now, we’re running an awesome introductory special. For just $1,000, we’ll set you up with a brand-new website and all the images and content to make it work (up to 2,500 words). On top of that, your new site will be built from the ground up with SEO and a unique content strategy in mind.
And, hey, as long as you’re a client of In The Cloud Copy, I’ll even throw in free web hosting through BlueHost.
The team of In The Cloud has over 143 years of combined experience writing marketing, news and informational copy — we’re going to be here today and tomorrow. We’ll make sure that there’s no stopping your content, even if a keyboard falls silent.