Such was the case for me on a recent job.
This client had no idea how to manage his social media accounts. He only knew that he wanted them up, put together, and professional - and they had to be linked.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had a request like this, so I put together a plan and a quote and handed it off.
He wanted adjustments to the work, complained about the cost, and insisted on writing his own posts. He only wanted me to set up the accounts so he could get started.
Not a problem.
Until he started writing.
Writing is hard work. It takes a certain skill set that not everybody has. Sure, anyone can string words together, but to communicate effectively is a bit more complex.
Imagine painting a portrait. We can all do it, it is not difficult, but to capture a person, to really communicate who they are with brushstrokes, takes an ability that most of us do not possess - good writing is like that.
This client lacked the ability to put his ideas on paper in a way that reflected his company and the message he wanted to convey.
There is no shame in that. The shame comes from refusing the help of people who do have that rare skill.
His posts were full of misspellings and factual errors and, when I attempted to help him correct the issue, he became defensive, insisting that I just wanted more money.
It wasn't the case, but nothing I could say would convince him otherwise.
It’s been six months now, and he can’t get his marketing off the ground.
He blames me because no one reads his posts, in spite of the fact that I don't write them.
It was frustrating to work so hard to build him something useful only to watch it implode, but sometimes, that’s the way it goes.
Now, when I set up a social media plan, I insist on writing at least two posts per platform and providing a simple template for clients to follow if they insist on taking it from there.
I can’t force them to use it, but at least I can say I tried.
Clients aren't the only ones guilty of this sort of hubris, though. Writers can find themselves in this same boat if they aren't careful
As a writer, I am responsible for so much more than putting words together well. It is my duty to paint a picture for the reader. Sometimes I do that with little effort. Other times, I need help from those who can see the work in a way that I cannot.
When I was young, that made me feel as though I were inadequate. "I am a writer; I should be able to do this!" I would think to myself. Any criticism made me feel like running away and giving up.
I am older now. I have thick enough skin to know that sometimes, others know more than I do - and that's OK. I can accept criticism, learn from my mistakes, and appreciate that, at times, I need to reach out and let someone else show me the way.
In my mind, this is the key to success in business and life. Setting aside our egos and taking advice when given - even if you don't use it all - will help you to grow into a better version of who you should be.
I am hoping that with time, my client will see this and use some of the tips I gave him to improve his company's advertising. Even if he doesn't, I have learned something from him and that alone was worth the experience to me.