It’s Q&A Monday! And, to be honest, I was worried it wasn’t going to happen…
Over at Filthy Rich Writer HQ we were facing a serious problem this weekend. We ran an update to our site, only to discover that the update kept us from being able to access our site. Think of it as trying to work on a car when the hood is fused shut.
Now, we’re a savvy bunch of technology lovers, but not a one of us knew how to fix it. And, of course, we were on deadline to get the Filthy Rich Writer newsletter out to you. As I tell you how we ended up solving the problem, I’m also going to answer today’s aptly timed question from Steve Q. who asks, “What do I do if an emergency comes up and I can’t meet a deadline?”
This is a little bit of a tricky question in that: of course emergencies happen. And, since they’re emergencies, you can’t know in advance when they’ll come up. But the other tricky part is that you can’t miss deadlines. You just can’t. Your reputation is crucial to your career and if you miss deadlines, you’ll get a reputation for missing deadlines and no one will hire you. (I don’t care which city you’re in—the creative community is very small.) There might be a scenario in which your deadlines are flexible and you’ve been working with a client for years and the emergency is devastating and, in that case, you might be able to get away with calling them up and asking for an extension. But, if there’s one thing you get from all of this, it should be that deadlines are sacred.
So what do you do? How do you plan for the unplan-able? Well, you have two options:
The first option is to just find some way to get the work done yourself. You power through, pull a few all-nighters and you do everything you have to do to get that copy done.
The second option is to have a network of people you trust to help you. (And here’s where our website problem comes in.) As you start taking copywriting work, you’ve got to also build your list of professional contacts. You need to know at least a few designers, a few developers/coders and at least one or two other copywriters that you really, really trust.
In our case, once we discovered that our website had locked us out, we went to our contacts lists and emailed all of the developers we know to see if anyone could help us. Luckily, happily and several other -ilys, we found someone who was able to fix the problem for us in all of an hour. Many, many sighs of relief.
So, in the case of deadlines, if the hold up is that you just don’t have enough time to write it, I would suggest you reach out to a writer you trust and ask for their help. Make sure you build in time to look over the work and make any tweaks to it you need to, and make sure you plan to compensate them more than fairly, but this way the writing gets done, it gets done up to your standards, and you don’t have to miss your deadline. Because you’re looking over the work and making changes to make sure it’s in line with what the client is looking for, you don’t even have to tell your client that you sub-contracted the work. (Just make sure, of course, that it really is completely up to par.)
You need to have designer, developer and IT contacts, too, because you might find yourself facing a deadline problem because the designer you brought into a project bailed or something goes wrong with your computer or some other crazy calamity happens. You need to have people you can reach out to—and people who will reach out to their contacts if they can’t help you personally.
It’s awful when emergencies pop up and you get panicked about a deadline. But, as the Beatles said, you can get by with a little help from your friends. What’s your plan? How many contacts do you have that could help you in an emergency? And how are you going to find more? Let us know in the comments!