Rogue Ink

October 2, 2008

Hire Me Already. Jeez.

Filed under: Writing — Tei @ 4:53 am

In Which I Discover That I Am Terrifying

I was chatting with James on the IM the other day and he told me that he occasionally gets emails from people who want to hire me. This bewildered me no little bit, since I rarely get emails of this sort, and I’m pretty sure that only snail mail gets delivered to the wrong address.

“Well, then, why don’t they tell ME they want to hire me?” I said, all bewildered. There are clients out there chatting with the Men about me? David Tennant on a cracker, what are they doing way the hell over there when they could be in the pub chatting me up?

“They’re scared of you,” says James.

“Scared of me? Innocent little me? Me who buys the drinks and slings the sass and ‘fesses the terrible errors she’s made? Me who is delightful and charming and loves to talk to people about their dope businesses and the kind of writing that would best promote those businesses? Me who has the most delightful customer manner ever? QUOI?” said I, though I may have abbreviated that thought process to “What the hell?”

“You’re a better writer,” says Jamie. (He meant better than the potential client, not better than him. I believe it will be a frosty summer noontide in the Iraqi desert before James ever says I am a better writer than he is. Which is how we know the stars are all in their correct spheres.) “It intimidates people.”

“Funky,” say I. “This is like boy-logic. ‘You’re too good for me, I couldn’t possibly go out with you.’ And then no one ever asks me out and I stay at home weeping into my wineglass.”

“Yep,” Jamie says. “Sucks to be you.” (James is a very sympathetic man. Tender, you might say. Sensitive.)

Email ME, you guys. Screw James. James, though generally delightful, has the unfortunate habit of not being ME.

For which we pity him, but seriously, the man gets more than his fair share of emails already. I want emails! I love emails! All you quiet people out there who want some fun, sassy copywriting – or some artistic, poetic copywriting – or some compelling marketing copywriting – jeez almighty, hire me already. I love being hired by people who read my blog. They tend to think I’m awesome already. Also, they tend to be small business entrepreneurs, and they’re some of my favorite people to write for.

Fear Factor

I can’t figure out where this comes from. Sure I have a sword, but I only use it in defense of the English language and the last chocolate truffle (I saw you eyeing it). I cuss a lot, but so do a lot of people, most of my clients among them. Some of them are very polite and therefore only cuss into a handkerchief, but we all do it. I am quick with the wit, but last I checked all of that works in your favor.

So what’s freaking everyone out?

No, seriously, I want to know. I don’t want to be the scary one. That would suck. Then no one would talk to me at parties, and even if I tap-danced with Gene Wilder on stage, they would still be afraid of me, and I’d have to go off and elope with Madeline Kahn. And they won’t let me do that in most states yet, so we’d have a big falling out over gay marriage policies in the United States and I’d be alone again for the townspeople with pitchforks to find me.

I don’t want the pitchforking townspeople to get me. Save me from the pitchforking townspeople. Fire bad! Pitchforks worse!

And so, to reassure everyone that horrible things do not befall those who contact me to hire me for copywriting, I give you the following case studies. Hopefully these will show that I am not fearsome – indeed, quite to the contrary, I am gay and joyous and occasionally sip tea with my pinky finger crooked. Also, I’m pretty good at this writing thing. But I’ll let them tell you.

Reassuring Tales From Those Who Braved the Rogue, or, Shameless Self-Promotion

These are a couple of people who hired me directly from the blog. They are, both of them, one-woman shops, entrepreneurs, and delightful people, and I have not harmed or damaged any of them in any way while providing them with copy. One initially feared me, the other did not. These are their stories. (Cue dramatic music.)

Steph Vandermeulen of the recently-launched EditQuest

Steph was apparently one of the ones who was too freaked out to hire me. I did not know that. Here’s why SHE said she was all scared to get in touch in the first place.

“I think I was afraid you might be one of the too-cool mean girls while I was one of the slavering, pathetic nerds. Meeting you one on one was a pleasant surprise; while as competent as I expected, especially in nailing what concept I wanted and my voice, you were actually softer and, er, warmer than I anctipated.”

Now, anyone who went to high school with me will tell you that I was totally not one of the cool girls. The cool girls, in fact, tended to nicely pity me, as if they longed to take me in hand, give me a makeover, and show me how popular I could be if only I tried. I kept waiting for one of them to actually get an Emma-inspired (though most of them would have thought it was Clueless-inspired) plotline going, and then I’d get to fall in love with some hot-but-idiotic jock guy and dump him for a sweet indie dude, and wouldn’t that have been great? But no, it never happened, and I wound up being a writer with an inordinate knowledge of Lord of the Rings.

Steph discovered for herself that I am an equally slavering, pathetic nerd, as evidenced by the debate she and I had over whether Frodo’s ring was too controversial to appear in the text of her website (she edits fantasy fiction, it was on-topic). It was the dorkiest debate ever in the history of copywriting, but I am pretty sure Steph is assured that she is not the nerd talking to the cool kid anymore. Also, that working with me is fun, as evidenced by this quote, which she wrote me in response to her first draft:

“I actually snorted aloud. I laughed. Hooray! As sloppy and generic as this word is, and as much as you might hate to hear your writing is ‘great’, it’s great. Seriously. Thank you.”

Let this be a lesson to you all. Fear only keeps you from debates about fantasy symbolism, and (peripherally) kick-ass copy.

Kerrie Lee, of PoppyFish Jewelry

Now, Kerrie, being an artist, is clearly hip to my sensitive, tender and loving side, and had no fears at all about contacting me.

“Generally, I tend to be easily intimidated, but you seemed very approachable. Your writing seems expert without taking away the real person-ness. And I like your sassy attitude.”

See? Kerrie gets me. She really gets me. Oh, Kerrie. You’re so awesome. Why doesn’t everyone else think like you do? Why are they scared of me, Kerrie?

Kerrie got into this fantastic habit of telling me how cool I was every time I turned around, which started to get a little embarrassing in the awesome way, like when a friend of yours keeps chatting you up to a potential love interest. She liked my process of asking lots of questions up front:

“I wanted to say that these questions helped me organize my thoughts a lot. When I started writing, I didn’t believe my art was special and I didn’t feel like it had that mystique I long for so badly. But by the time I got to the end of it, I started seeing my art (and myself as an artist) differently. And I see the recurring themes in my work now. Maybe I’m more artsy than I realized. Which is cool.”

I LOVE stuff like this. If I can do this for every client, I’m a happy camper. And then she sealed my love for her forever with this exuberant response to her first draft:

“I HAD to email you IMMEDIATELY and tell you how amazingly amazing it is. I’m seriously at a loss for words and I called my mom right away and told her “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, I have to read this to you!” You captured my thoughts perfectly. So perfectly! I sound like such a dork right now, I know.”

Apparently my target demographic is dorks. I’m totally thrilled about that notion, actually. May I have dorks for clients forevermore. Kerrie also gave me one of the best compliments of my writing career, which was poetic and sweet in the way that she is, and pretty much captured what I’d always like to do for my clients.

“I give you muddy water and you make it clear.”

It’s clients like this that make me want to go the extra mile for them, which is what wound up happening for Kerrie. She happened to be designing a new line of jewelry, as yet unnamed, which she sent me pictures of. In the process of doing the writing for her, I stumbled over a word that seemed to encapsulate what she wanted those jewelry pieces to be about, and I suggested it to her as a name for the line, free of charge. She loved it and she’s going to use it, for which I am deeply honored.

Back to Being Humble.

Now, I wouldn’t normally toot my horn quite like this on the blog, because marketing is supposed to be more savvy than this. But it’s devastating to hear that there are awesome folk out there who would like to hire me but are too afraid. I’m definitely stumbling around through the freelance world and my general response to uncertainty is to be quippy and sassy, which makes for fun blog entries and embarrassing anecdotes, all of which I’m happy to share with you. Please don’t let that keep you from getting in touch, though.

I love small businesses, small business owners, and people who dream about being small business owners one day. I love to talk about them, I love to brainstorm, I love to hear what you’re up to. I’ve been chatting with one of my readers for months now about her small business. She’d like to hire me and can’t afford to just now, which is fine by me, since I know that if and when she decides that fresh copywriting will be worth the investment, she’ll probably consider me. And if she never needs me, that’s also cool, because now I have a new friend who’s also struggling with entrepreneurship, and we can bitch and moan to each other about it.

Be not afraid, denizens. Come talk with me. I just updated my ‘About‘ section to include links to the website, my IM addresses, my Twitter feed, and my email, so you’ve got no excuse whatsoever. Tell me about you, tell me about your business, even if you don’t need a copywriter right now and just want to shoot the shit.

I love shooting the shit. It’s way more fun than shooting anything else. Or so I’m told.

Subscribe. Fear not the Rogue, for she has nothing but love for you.


  1. I’m not scared. Damn. Now I need to hire you to prove it, don’t I? :-\

    Comment by Amy Derby — October 2, 2008 @ 6:09 am | Reply

  2. Nah. You do what I do. You just need to tell me all your secrets. Mwaaha!

    Comment by Tei — October 2, 2008 @ 6:14 am | Reply

  3. I’m only intimidated by how you’d want me to, you know, pay you. Well, and by how my current copy writer would totally kick my ass for going behind her back for some new, hot copy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Comment by Amy Crook — October 2, 2008 @ 6:34 am | Reply

  4. Tei,

    He never IMs me.

    Ahem. Were you saying something? Oh, yeah. I do think that’s odd. Now I’ve got a perfectly decent (good would be an exaggeration) form on the company website for folks to use, yet they nearly always call or email to hire us. But to my knowledge, nobody emails anyone else. I do think that is strange, strange. If I needed you I wouldn’t email Mr. Chartrand. I would swing through the vines until I located you, and holler like Tarzan or some such. You’d appreciate that, hopefully. I don’t find you scary, and if reading you here was what made me interested, then how could contacting you be where it breaks down?

    By the way, as a copywriter, you should know this is the very most circuitous sales letter ever (“I am an equally slavering, pathetic nerd”? So hire me? LOL), yet delightfully on target. Plenty savvy.

    Nothing but love for the Rogue, here.



    Comment by Kelly — October 2, 2008 @ 11:11 am | Reply

  5. I’ll admit it. I would have been in the same camp as Steph, But I would have been brave and come to you if I needed you rather than James. I’m more scared of him then you. He actually roars, you just snark some. Why anyone would go poke a bear to find a rogue is mystifing.

    Comment by Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations — October 2, 2008 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

  6. You don’t frighten me, Sword-Girl…

    (okay a little, maybe, but in a good way, because I like girls with swords – I will hire you at some point – stay tuned…)


    Comment by Brett Legree — October 2, 2008 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  7. Hurrah! No one’s scared of me!

    Seriously, I was concerned.

    Amy: Hot young copy is totally going to be my new slogan.

    Kelly: I try to be circuitous and savvy. It is my M.O. Glad you liked it.

    Wendi: “Poke a bear, find a rogue.” Hi-larious.

    Brett: Another great tagline. “Frightening, but in the good way.”

    Comment by Tei — October 2, 2008 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  8. Well, you don’t frighten me anymore, but can I still admit I’m surprised that sometimes *you* initiate IMs with *me*? I still think of you as the cool girl and me as the…not cool girl. Because, yeah, forget the nerd bit. We’re so totally both nerds. Which is great. I love it. I said so many times, every time you made a reference to something (and I get totally geekily excited when you do that) and I knew what you were talking about.

    And for the record, the ring was not controversial, it was just that we had Potter’s wand and Gently’s towel and those were helps not hindrances like the ring. BUT ANYWAY. ๐Ÿ™‚ You won that round. (I was just glad to get the sword tip out of my nostril.)

    Seriously, though. Yes, you were awesome. I was really, really happy about how great you were to work with. I told Colin. I told Brett. I told others. I still have the email you sent pitching your idea for the copy concept. Like Kerrie, I was totally impressed with how you sorted out exactly what I was trying to say and made my voice consistent. And you are a flexible and easy-going person to work with who’s not all “you can’t change anything now because my writing is the best and it tops yours! It’s perfect, leave it!” I appreciated that.

    Comment by Steph — October 2, 2008 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  9. PS. Thanks for the link, Biscuit!

    Comment by Steph — October 2, 2008 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

  10. Thanks. This post made me late for work. Again.

    Comment by Jen Brister — October 2, 2008 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

  11. Oh, puh-leeze. Spare me that “you intimidate me” crap, because that’s all it is, crap. If someone’s too “intimidated” to hire you — if they do get around to hiring you, trust me, you’ll need to add an aggravation fee, because they are going to work your last nerve.

    Consider yourself lucky– you’re culling the herd of the clients not worth your time, and the cream will rise to the top (yes, mixing metaphors here). You’ll get better clients, better projects, better rates.

    As far as those guys who, in school, were the ones with the “you’re too good for me, I can’t possibly date you” — when you run into them again, you realize — They were right, you were and are too good for them, and thank goodness you didn’t date them or get stuck with any of them.

    I know, in my case, the men in my life now are so much better, more intelligent, and more interesting than what any of those high school “golden boys” turned into!

    Comment by devonellington — October 2, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  12. Hey, hey, don’t shoot the messenger!

    Good pitch. Couldn’t have done it better myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Comment by James Chartrand - Men with Pens — October 2, 2008 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  13. Tei, best sales pitch that wasn’t a sales pitch I ever read. I think it’s funny that people find you scary. The wonderful thing about blogging is that potential customers do get to see your personality and the ones who follow through are a great fit because they know you. The customers who have found me through my blog, were not bloggers, they did not leave comments, they simply followed my online footprints and decided they liked me. I heart people who get me, I really, really do. In a Sally Field, Oscar speech kind of way it makes me feel all good and gooey about what I do. So let them not fear the Rogue, people please hire the woman!

    Comment by Karen Swim — October 2, 2008 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  14. Not sure it’s intimidation so much as Tei Shock. Every time I read one of your posts (anywhere), I come away feeling slightly dazed. Unlike James (who has his own brand of “intimidation” going on), you pace your writing much faster. Combine that with the general awesomeness of your phrasing, and it is all a bit whoa.

    Yes, one would think these things would inspire people to hire you, not have them quaking in terror. You can bet, if I ever have need a few good words, I’ll be knocking at your door. Right after I tap on James’. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Comment by Nicole Brunet — October 2, 2008 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  15. You do intimidate me. But then, so do Harry and James. (If I hadn’t needed to for ER, there’s a good chance I never would have contacted either of them. Yes, I’m too shy for my own good sometimes.) Of course, I’m not the person you need to worry about, since I have no excuse to hire a copywriter right now… and when I do, you can be sure as heck I won’t hesitate (too much) to contact you.

    As silly as it might sound to you, I do see you as the “cool girl.” Realize, though, that this is coming from the girl who wasn’t even cool enough to be one of the nerds.

    However, I’m not scared of you. Intimidated, yes. Scared? Nope. As long as I don’t give you some reason to come after me with that sword of yours, (which believe me, I don’t intend to do any time soon,) then I don’t think I need to be scared of you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Comment by Allison Day — October 3, 2008 @ 8:00 am | Reply

  16. Every once in a while, I end up here reading good stuff and then later run away like “Man, I seriously can’t handle another awesome blogger right now.” Not because I’m too good for it, but because there’s only so much inspiration one can take and it’s an hour later than my bedtime and here I am writing a comment when the better part of my brain is out for a walk.

    Ah, well.

    I’m glad you bring this up because people are starting to say to me that they were originally intimated of me. Why? What did I do? The general “WTF!” comes out every time as I try to figure out a way to get rid of this spectre of fear that lurks around me. I hope that if I write something that addresses it, it’s half as effective as what you’ve done here.

    Who knows? If it’s not, I may come hire you to help me make myself seem less scary.

    Oh, and about the LOTR thing: why is there this double-nerd standard about girls who read fantasy and sci fi? Like somehow the tales of Middle Earth are the standard fare for us guy nerds, yet when a girl (I should say “lady,” but screw it since we’re dealing with high school angst) reads it, she’s even more of a nerd than the guy with encyclopedic knowledge of the geneology of the Silmarillion. I demand equal attribution of nerdiness for all!

    Comment by Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing — October 4, 2008 @ 5:38 am | Reply

  17. Working with Tei has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done both personally and professionally. My business is still new, so hiring a writer was probably not one of the more necessary places to spend my first business bucks. But I’m so glad I did. I thought it would be impossible to capture the vague ideas I had. Tei not only interpreted my needs in an uncanny way, but was able to put them into words. She took very special care of me. Even here on her own blog where she’s used my testimonials to promote herself, she’s made me feel really special. This is the awesomeness of Tei.

    I understand people feeling like Tei is one of the cool kids. She is one of the cool kids. But she’s one of those cool kids who is so uber cool she can befriend cool kids and dorks alike. ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. Dork is the new cool. (Cue Huey Lewis.)

    Comment by Kerrie — October 5, 2008 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  18. Steph: Uh-huh. Sure. You just lost the debate and don’t want to ADMIT IT, loserpants. But hey, once I deliver it, the copy belongs to you. You can do whatever the hell suits you best to it. I only feel like you’re butchering my baby if I wrote fiction or an article or something that was personal to me. Your copy is personal to YOU – you can do whatever makes it feel best to you.

    Jen: I do what I can.

    Devon: I have this feeling you should be my awesome uncle who gives grumpy advice. Will you be my awesome uncle?

    Karen: Amen, sister! I really must call you sometime soon, stupid eLance is on my to-do list.

    Nicole: You know you want me more. Admit it. We won’t tell James.

    Allison: Nope. I will protect you with my mighty blade. For yea and verily, you are a righteous damsel indeed.

    Charlie: Seriously, anyone who knows the genealogy of the works of Tolkien earns full geek marks, gender irrelevant.

    Kerrie: You’re awesome. See how awesome she is, people? Awesomeness personified, is Kerrie.

    Comment by Tei — October 6, 2008 @ 4:40 am | Reply

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