Do white paper copywriters have to do video interviews?
Do we have to show our faces to the marketing managers who hire us?
Or to the SMEs we interview? Even when we’re working remotely and will never meet in person?
I got that question recently from a writer with a pressing reason to ask.
Experienced copywriter JM (not his real initials) was involved in a car accident that left his face permanently disfigured.
When he tried to get back to work, applying for jobs he was well-qualified for, interviewers told him things like “you wouldn’t fit in here.”
So he went freelance to work from his home office. But he’s still worried about doing face-to-face interviews, either in person or through video.
Not the only reason
There are other legitimate reasons why a copywriter might not want to hop on a video call with a client:
- You don’t know how and you’re worried about flubbing it
- You’re embarrassed because your office is a mess—and whose isn’t?
- You find video calls distract from the business conversation you want to have
- You dislike the herky-jerky audio and frequent dropped calls
- One of your favorite perks of freelancing is not having to dress up and do hair and makeup every morning
I can relate, believe me.
So here are some tips for any copywriter who doesn’t want to do video Skypes with clients.
Tip #1: A writer is judged on their words, not their appearance
Any business person worth their salt looks at what a writer can do for their business… not their appearance.
If their work is effective, that’s all that really matters.
This is one reason why I like being a writer. If I had to make it on “good looks” I wouldn’t make it very far.
Tip #2: No one looks fabulous in a tiny on-screen window
When I write for Google, my contacts often want to do a Google Hangout. I’m not sure why.
The garish green lights in people’s offices, the background clutter, and the too-faraway or too-close faces make everyone look less than wonderful.
I’ve watched older SMEs hunch over their desks so all anyone can see is their bald crowns.
The point is, most people don’t look their best in a 2-inch window on the screen.
Tip #3: Show a still image during video calls
One of my favorite clients never shows her face. If her colleagues request a video call, she puts up a still image of a landscape with her name on it.
She uses the same image for LinkedIn and Facebook.
It’s a viable idea: If you must Skype with a client, click on the phone icon, not the video. That way you can show a still image instead of your face, perhaps a shelf of books or anything else that conveys the idea that you’re a wordsmith.
Tip #4: Steer clients away from video calls
I figure I’ve interviewed at least 3,000 business people over the years. And I have to tell you, only a tiny handful of those were through in person or through video calls. Maybe 25 or 30. That’s 1%… not a very frequent occurrence.
I dislike doing video interviews to gather detailed content for several reasons:
- I want to concentrate on what they’re telling me, not a laggy image of their face
- My clients get nothing from watching my head down as I type
- A video call is harder to record (I bought special software just to record Skype conversations)
- A video recording makes a gigantic file that may not fit on your iPad or mobile phone, so it’s less portable than an audio file
Whenever a client requests a video conference, I simply say, “I’d prefer to do a regular phone call, so I can focus better. With your permission, I’d like to record our conversation to make sure I get everything right. Doing a regular phone call helps me do my best work for you.”
I’ve never gotten any argument.
Tip #5: Glam out and get a fabulous photo
For those rare occasions when you simply can’t avoid doing a Skype, consider getting a really good photo.
An experienced portrait photographer can create a flattering shot of just about anyone.
The proper hair, makeup, background, and lighting can make most people look fabulous.
How do you think movie stars look so good?
They have professional stylists doing their hair, makeup and wardrobe. Numerous people fuss over them for hours before the cameras start to roll.
Go all out, just once, and get a fantabulous photo taken. Then use that as a still image for all your video calls for the next few years.
What do you think? Do you avoid Skyping with clients? Do you have a tip to add to this list? Please leave a comment below.