When I started Copy with Cream 20 years ago, I said ‘yes’ to every project. I desperately wanted to build up my copywriting business and develop a reputation in Adelaide with advertising agencies, web developers, government departments, large business, small business, err… just about everybody.
Cut to 2 years later
I was really busy and very stressed. Partly because I was saying ‘yes’ to everybody. I distinctly remember the turning point. I had given a potential client a reduced quote, because I was keen to get their business. By return email, he advised that I could have the job, but next time could I please sharpen my pencil. It took me a minute to work out what he meant. His lovely comment was exactly what I needed to bring me to my senses.
I needed a better plan
I can’t for the life of me remember who I was whinging to over coffee one day, but they said to me ‘well, you sound like you have a bit of a formula there.’ I do? What did I just say? Quick! Where’s my pen and paper? I immediately wrote it down and over the years this little formula has saved me from many a sleepless night worrying about whether I should take on a project or not.
My 3 out of 4 rule
In an ideal world, every job would be 4 out of 4 but I’m a reasonable woman, so 3 out of 4 will do just fine. Here are my 4 criteria…
- Nice people
- Fun job
- Good money
- Fits my schedule.
In my experience, the projects that ended up going pear-shaped were usually done on a shoe-string budget (breaking Rule 3) and were always needed ‘yesterday’ (breaking Rule 4). Once I started following my 3 out of 4 rule, life became a helluva lot easier.
If the job was a bit boring, but for really nice clients that were happy to pay and the job fit my schedule, cool. If the client didn’t have a lot of money but it was a fun job and they were happy to let me fit their project in between my other work, great.
Now I’m not one for a lot of rules (which is probably why I work for myself) but some rules really are worth having. 🙂