If you’re a Dallas copywriter or even a Fort Worth copywriter, you may have noticed change happening. This is applies to both full-time writers and freelance. Consider the trends:
Your mailbox: More fliers offering discounts, fewer catalogs. Those catalogs that do appear weigh less than they did last year due to shrinking page counts.
Newspapers: Star-Telegram owner McClatchy announces 1,400 layoffs, closes Washington bureau, cuts 130 at Star-Telegram. One ad exec for a local retailer told me she’s predicting upcoming cuts for her company’s pre-print division. Reason: “No one is buying newspapers anymore,” she said. Ouch.
Ad-choo! : Experts predict as much as $160 billion in advertising will blow away in 2009. Cough. Sneeze. Gone.
Writer hires: Industries you wouldn’t expect are looking for copywriters: Medical insurance, military, research firms, roofing companies (!?!). A heightened interest in the hard skills (proofreading, copyediting, proposal writing, niche-oriented technical writing), less emphasis on the editorial (at least in D-FW).
Whoopdy-Doo, what does it all mean? Basically this: When ad dollars retreat, pages get cut, people get cut, priorities change.
Then again, some industries are doing well, such as medical and education are recruiting writers like crazy, everything from proposal writers to technical writers.
So, if you do fancy yourself a “creative” writer, it’s not too late to change. Re-evaluate, reassess and, most of all, improve your skills: take that graphic design class you keep putting off; dust off that old style book and read it; blog, write articles for free (that’s right, you heard me); become an expert at something. Expand, learn, grow — network until you’re out of business cards and the fabric on your shirt is worn from affixing so many sticky “Hello, my name is” tags. Charm the pants off everyone you know.
Most of all, you’ll go farther if you think of yourself as a skilled word mechanic rather than a creative “artiste.” Effective writing is not about expression, it’s about information. No one wants to read you diary except your mother.