Copywriting Pairs. We Exist.
An interview with ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves, using redundant questions we’re tired of answering about our two-person copywriting microbusiness.
(We wrote the questions, too).
“Whoa there! You’re both copywriters? How does that even work?”
R: Admittedly, I’m at my wit’s end on this one.
The last time I told someone I worked in a copywriting pair, the guy quite literally gasped. Then he fell into his phone and started recounting the valiance displayed this week by his art director, who he said deserved extra time off for Fourth of July, which I agreed was fair.
Needless to say, I never got around to answering the question.
A: Watching Ryan’s face on Zoom when we’re asked this question is one of my favorite hobbies… mostly because his held silence immediately means I must “take one for the team,” as the say, which, in its own right, should be a pretty compelling reason
on its own to join forces with another—you know, the whole “one doesn’t want to so the other one does” concept.
If you’re still looking for an outright answer to the question (which we find less fun and genuinely more challenging when it comes to writing), we would say, “we do the work together,” and maybe add in that Ryan is a Pisces and I’m a Virgo for good measure.
“Which one of you does what?”
R: That said, our setup is unorthodox. We’re both copywriters; neither of us is “the” designer. But what’s been really fruitful is seeing how creativity recognizes creativity — clients who see that our work is better together are the ones who see nothing out of the ordinary. They just see strong copy.
A: Ryan’s famous quote during our pitch meetings is, “You’re getting two people with two different life perspectives, sharing one voice.” We mean it when we say we literally do the work together. It’s just one big dance of synergy on FaceTime or in person all day long.
“Do you think you’ll take on something full-time soon?”
A: The short answer is “no.” The long answer is “you couldn’t ever make me be in a fluorescently lit space or a Slack All Hands ever again. It gives me acne.”
Try to think of all work as freelance work. Starting your own business is merely more deeply investing in the whole quality of your own life. It sounds froofy, but even if you work full-time for someone else, you can still characterize your current career as freelance and flexible and passionate. Your hours are what you contract. Do what you want with them, or acknowledge that you are already mostly doing what you want with them.
“What do each of you think the other possesses that you yourself don’t?”
R: Annie has about three more steps of foresight than I do. The first is daily foresight. How are we actually going to use our hours today? The next grade is monthly. How many new clients can we take on this month while still maintaining our creativity? Finally her foresight extends into a far distant future dreamscape. How will crypto stand as an eternal democratizer when it’s not built on any foundation other than principle
Also, her words string together more nicely than mine.
A: Whenever I run out of words to describe how I feel about Ryan, I turn to the 2016 LinkedIn recommendation I once wrote for him: “Ryan is superlatively the most thoughtful person I have ever met.” Whether he’s curating your birthday adventure or fine-tuning the structure of a subject line, Ryan is able to make his world (and yours, too) efficient, tight, well-read, correct (more rare than you think), and most importantly, beautiful. <-You should see how he can transform a Google doc. While he has the stamina to apply deep consideration to things that either do matter or should matter, I’m typically in an ADD spiral, wiping smoothie off of my mouth, clicking through every tab on my browser. The work, in layman’s terms, just wouldn’t be as good if Ryan wasn’t leading me toward it (truly, half the time I have to ask him what it is).
“I think I know what they’re looking for,” he says. And he so does.
“How did this whole thing get started?”
R: We enjoyed writing to each other! So much of writing is about feeling safe and secure to let your thoughts flow. Once we realized it was easy to do in each other’s midst, we started hawking our services to brands we liked (and a chocolatier in Las Vegas named ???). We loved working on weekends together. It felt like a naughty side project that’s now, sadly, just our job.
A: First of all, it still feels like a naughty side project, especially when we go to Peet’s Coffee in Studio City, which is a microcosm in its own right.
Ryan and I have always whimsically been tied together, which has made writing together, to each other, and for each other a seamless task. We both knew, at the same time, that we weren’t meant for the corporate world, and in many ways, led each other out of it. We just knew that working together was the priority, and the rest could be made up to make the former work (we tried script writing like everyone else in LA, and our work wasn’t even half bad!).
When you’re freelance, you realize that there are MILLIONS of jobs out there because there is endless work that needs to be done. Over-attaching your identity to one thing, or putting all of your 401k eggs in one basket will always leave you with nothing if all of those eggs crack.
“What advice would you give to someone looking to get into freelance work or start their own business?”
R: Try to think of all work as freelance work. Starting your own business is merely more deeply investing in the whole quality of your own life. It sounds froofy, but even if you work full-time for someone else, you can still characterize your current career as freelance and flexible and passionate. Your hours are what you contract. Do what you want with them, or acknowledge that you are already mostly doing what you want with them.
That said, 4-day workweeks are real because you need Friday for CVS.
A: I keep telling Ryan that the actual goal is a 3-day workweek, but we’ll make that happen in 2023. Fun fact: Ryan invented “Summer Hours” for our business this year and it’s been my favorite thing (because acupuncture is at 11am on Tuesdays).
I would say taking the pressure off absolutely everything as it relates to your career is an epic unburdening. When you’re freelance, you realize that there are MILLIONS of jobs out there because there is endless work that needs to be done. Over-attaching your identity to one thing, or putting all of your 401k eggs in one basket will always leave you with nothing if all of those eggs crack. A willingness to treat your own life as theater and all of your clients as a cast of characters in your (well-written) play (or musical, as we would have it), makes freelancing feel a lot more like something you’ve chosen vs. something that leaves you desperate. Never be desperate!!
“What’s the biggest misconception about copywriters? Like, basically, what do clients need to know before they work with you?”
R: They always think we’re legal. But we’re actually only funny, and sometimes not even that.
A: They think anything with words is in our purview, which gets us into some dicey assignments (or Google Sheets) that make our eyes cross. Sometimes, there are certain words that require no creativity whatsoever, and that is truly okay!
“What quote or song best embodies your microbusiness? You can say more than one (but no more than three!).”
R: “At This Point in My Life” by Tracy Chapman
A: “All ‘Bout the Money” by Meja
“What’s the hardest work you’ve ever done?”
🎵Done so many things wrong
I don’t know if I can do right
Oh, I, oh, I’ve
Done so many things wrong
I don’t know if I can do right
At this point in my life
I’ve done so many things wrong
I don’t know if I can do right
If you put your trust in me
Hope I won’t let you down
If you give me a chance I’ll try 🎵
🎵I had my ups and downs
But I always find the inner strength to pull myself up
I was served lemons, but I made lemonade 🎵
Okay, it’s when we wrote intranet copy for a large corporation, which included rewriting their company’s pet insurance policy.
“Where do you see yourselves in five years?”
R: I really think I’ll go for LASIK by then, but they’re telling me it’s not even branded that anymore? Apparently it’s just, “surgery” ? Lots to learn; lots to read.
A: At whatever wellness retreat Selma Blair went to recently. (It’s Golden Door Spa. I knew that the whole time).
“What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far in your microbusiness?”
R: Trust your microbusiness partner with your whole heart. You cover so many more bases by seeing everything twice. As they say… together we put the my in microbusiness.
Also, take trips! Once Annie and I took a trip to find a client in San Francisco. We found one, and to celebrate, we went to pilates twice.
A: Well, everything Ryan said. And always find a reason to celebrate.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.