5 keys to taking feedback like a badass

Gandalf and Saruman

No one likes to work with someone who refuses to take feedback. We’ve all worked with people like that—someone who’s determined that he/she is right and that others are wrong and that the work produced is without flaw or need of improvement at all, whatsoever. Period.

It’s not easy.

There was a period of two years during which I worked with two graphic designers who are absolute opposites when it comes to handling critique of their work.

Note: When I refer to these creative colleagues, I’m obviously not going to use their real names. So I’ll call them Gandalf and Saruman. Personal preference.

Watching them showed me their distinct approaches—and how to be better at taking feedback myself.

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Earning clients’ trust

TrustMe

Why can’t they just trust me? I’m a professional.

~ Every Writer Ever

According to my research, every writer on the planet has uttered some form of this phrase at least a hundred times. (Disclaimer: My research has consisted of talking to my fellow writers here at work. Still, I’m pretty sure I’m right.)

It’s frustrating when we feel like our clients don’t trust us.

We pour ourselves into our work. We take pride in it. We can also be slightly sensitive about it at times, too. When someone questions that comma or that phrase or that arrangement, it’s easy to get defensive. Because really, why don’t they trust us?

But really, why should they trust us?

Seriously. Have we earned their trust? It’s their project, their company, their brand, their reputation, how they look to their bosses. We’re their resource.

So instead of taking it personally, let’s empathize and earn our clients’ trust.

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5 basics every writer should be able to do

brick.jpeg

This post isn’t about gadgets or books or some sure-fire, secret to transform your writing into everything you’ve ever dreamed of, plus a basket of kittens.

This is about table stakes. Basics that other people may not tell you about because you’re expected to already know.

Because they’re part of every writer’s job.

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5 reasons to keep your writer’s resume shiny and handy

Hire this writer for she (or he) is awesome.I’m a stickler when it comes to my writer’s resume. Even though I’m happy where I am, I’m still putting it through some regular maintenance. As I research new ideas and trends, I’m noticing that some people think writers don’t need a resume.

Main reasons being no one reads them anymore, they’re boring and that your online portfolio more effectively shows you at your best. The strongest case I’ve come across for not having a resume is made by freelance B2B copywriter, Daisy McCarty, in her blog post Why You Should Burn Your Freelance Resume. To sum up her standpoint, by presenting a resume, you present yourself as a job seeker and put yourself in a weaker negotiating position.

All valid points.

I still think every copywriter — freelance and cube dwelling — should have a resume.

Now, not all writers market the same way. If you’re a blogger who networks online or a magazine writer who pitches ideas, a traditional resume may not be the best use of your time. My point of view is that of a professional copywriter who targets businesses.

I’ve freelanced and cube-dwelled. And in both cases, the benefits of having one outweighed my reasons for not.

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What I gained even though I failed as a freelance writer

LOLshark lost 5 poundsLast time, on Rubber Ducky Copywriter, I shared my woeful story of failing as a freelance writer. Yes, it sucked in many ways. However, it wasn’t a total loss. With the bumps, bruises and occasionally obliterated self-esteem came some serious growth.

I didn’t succeed as a freelancer, but I did manage to grow as a person and as a professional.

Professional branding

One of the first rules of writing is to know your audience. As I tried to turn myself into a business, I had to take a step back and look at how I came across to prospects. This meant a hardcore look at my strengths, my weaknesses, what I want to be known for and what I never want to be known for.

I had to blueprint what kind of professional I want to be and what would set me apart.

Not as a person; as a professional. This is something that I bring to work with every day. I’m still Me, Inc. And I’ll always be working on my brand. I’m cubicle-bound, but this mentality still serves me well.

Your takeaway
You’ve probably heard it before but it’s worth repeating—freelancers are businesses. Define what kind of professional you want to be and work on becoming that.

LOLcat invisible rollercoasterThe answer to “What if I fail?”

By my last budget-related elimination, I was already tired of the “come on as contract before we make you permanent; oops, we have to eliminate your position instead” rollercoaster. And I hate rollercoasters.

Fear of failure kept me from freelancing for years. But now I know what’ll happen if I fail—I’ll find another job. I’ll be okay.

Your takeaway
Answer the question: What will happen if you fail? Will you find another way to make ends meet? Or will you dig a nice, deep hole and crawl inside to wait for the sweet kiss of madness or death, whichever comes first?

I go where the money is. There’s no money in the hole.

Ownership

When you work within a company, responsibility is often shared. When you’re a freelancer, it’s all yours. You own how much effort you put into your business. Your deadlines, your workflow, your branding—they’re all yours.

I came away from freelancing with a stronger sense of ownership. I’m back to working within a company, but I still handle my business like I own it—because I do.

Your takeaway
Wherever you work, you’re a walking, talking business. Own what you do and what you stand for as a professional.

Stronger start for next time

All those things you need to freelance? Contracts, business plan, non-boogerish website…things I didn’t have last time? I’ve been getting those in order. And every so often, I’ll even freshen them up.

I have what I need to hit the ground running next time. Except my marketing plan. Still working on that.

Your takeaway
Freelancing isn’t a one-and-done endeavor. Didn’t succeed the first time? Set yourself up to succeed next time. Pin-point what went wrong and fix what you can.

LOLcat snapping cat packPerspective

Maybe this is just my perception, but there seems to be a general feeling that writers who freelance are living the dream while writers who work within a company are trapped. And that each writer has to choose one or the other.

Again, this might just be my perception. I honestly don’t know and can’t assign it to any particular individual or website.

But I have figured out this much: I’m a professional copywriter. Period.

Whether I make a living by freelancing or by working within a company, I will make the best decision I can for the best interests of my family.

Your takeaway
Do what’s best for you. There’s no ‘Freelance Police’ waiting to cart you off if you don’t make enough or if you’re not doing it ‘right.’ Want to freelance? Rock that. Prefer a cubicle? Rock that instead.

Want to rock both? Best of luck and may the muse have mercy on your soul.

Most of all..

I came out of this phase of adventure with a better understanding of myself. When you’re left alone with your thoughts all day, you eventually have to listen. And I learned that I’m actually more capable and mentally resilient that I ever gave myself credit for.

I found a certain pride in trying to do something big. And starting your own business is a big deal. Even though I failed, I still tried. I even got clients and made some money. Obviously, I didn’t try hard enough or make enough money, but at least I tried. That’s more than a lot of other people can say.

If I’d been better prepared, less angry and more willing to put in the work, I could have made it work.

What about you?

What are some of your biggest lessons from freelancing? Share in the comments.