Two decades ago I started my career in sales and marketing. I was a shy, gangly looking kid who couldn’t look people in the eye. But, I soon discovered I had a hidden talent: I was exceptionally good at getting customers to say “Yes”.
Over the years I continued improving my skills, and soon found myself the state manager of a national IT company. I worked long hours, but the money was great and I was kicking ass at life.
Until I needed a double lung transplant.
After the transplant, I had time to think. And I realised I didn’t want to spend my newfound health babysitting adults and looking at endless spreadsheets. I wanted to find a new challenge.
But what could I do?
I’d written thousands of sales letters, with excellent results. I loved the creative process, and nailing the perfect sales pitch.
“Why not give freelance copywriting a go? How hard can it be?” #famouslastwords
There was one small issue.
I didn’t know where to begin.
Over the next 12 months I devoured every piece of information on copywriting I could find, and graduated with a distinction from The Blackford Centre of Copywriting. And then I started analysing every piece of content I saw to get a better understanding of it all.
I learned about:
- the subtleties of language, and how changing one word can alter your message
- the hidden psychology behind buying, and how to keep your customers engaged
- the importance of SEO, and keeping Google and humans happy
- the write (get it) formula for creating the perfect copy
- why story is the best way to attract and retain customers
- the power of “So what?”
I was ready. I launched akwriting.com.au and sat back to wait for the orders.
Guess what happened next.
No emails. No phone calls. No million dollar contracts. Just a big empty void of nothingness.
I had the knowledge. I had the experience. So why weren’t people lining up to utilise my word wizardry?
After taking a hard look at my website, it hit me.
My writing lacked personality. It didn’t reflect who I was or why I was special.
I tried to be everything to everyone. But instead of coming across as a beautiful, beloved unicorn, I came across as a puddle of bland and soggy mush.
The only way I could make it work was to get rid of the stuffy, boring language and throw big blobby messes of personality all over my site. And that’s exactly what I did.
Wouldn’t you know it?
People loved my style. They wanted to hire me. I increased my rank on search engines, continued to grow my business, and lived the life that suited me.
Since then I’ve written content for large multinational companies, small businesses, personal trainers and furniture makers.
I recently added graphic design to my services, making me one of the few copywriters in Australia who can offer an end-to-end solution.
I now focus on providing complete marketing solutions for on-the-go businesses ready to stand out from their competitors and become leaders in their industry.
I’m not going to lie. Stepping into the world of freelance marketing felt like jumping in a shark tank covered in chum.
But if I can make it with everything stacked against me, I can help make your content come to life and distinguish you from your competition.
What are you waiting for, let’s get started.
Words I Live By
My Transplant Journey
The Abridged Version
It was a balmy Thursday morning in Canberra hospital, after 12 hours of screaming like a possessed banshee, Terri Klemm could finally relax, she had given birth to her 3rd and final child. The relaxed silence that had settled across the room was quickly shattered by a shrill scream which reverberated throughout the halls, calling attention to it’s self, a scream that announced to the world, attention kings and queens, noble folk and peasants alike, Ash Klemm has arrived!
The relief felt through the hospital was palpable, after having my twin die in the womb, and me being breached, there were concerns I would not make it, but there I was, hungry, crying, and bare ass naked, there was no need to stress anymore.
“I’m sorry Mrs Klemm, your son won’t survive past 2 years.” Words no parent wants to hear, words that shatter your happy little life, the dreams and hopes you had for him are crushed, my mum was devastated as she looked down at me, in contrast I was happy playing, and drooling, oblivious to the serious and (for me) potentially fatal conversation going on around me. She looked at the doctor and asked the same question any parent would ask at a time like this. “Why?” Why? A 3-letter word that carries with it the weight of everything wrong in the world.
The doctor informed mum I had been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a rare genetic illness which affected the lungs and digestive system, he explained my life from now on would be one filled with pills, physio, hospital visits, and most likely a premature death.
Mum went home, with a bag full of pills, pamphlets, and a determination not to let her son become another statistic, while I was most likely sucking on my favourite stuffed toy, and loving it.
In defiance of the doctor’s grim prediction, I survived past 2 years. Every year doctors predicted this would be my last. Every year we would prove them wrong. My life was filled with pills, hospital visits, and physio, but thankfully death had kept his distance, it was, for the most part, a happy childhood that grew into a happy adult hood.
At the beginning of March 2014 I was slowly recovering in hospital from a virus that was determined to introduce me to the grim reaper, as I lay there struggling to breathe and feeling weaker than my will power when I am around donuts, I just wanted it to end one way or another. As I lay there, in an oxygen starved daze, Dr David Serisier walked in to have a talk, David was a fit, confident doctor, whose knowledge in lung disease and particularly Cystic Fibrosis was second to none, he had been my doctor for 15 years, so to me, he was just David. He entered my hospital room the same way every time, two quick knocks of the open door and then stride in, with a grin on his face, usually followed by a herd of student doctors, nurses, and registrars, but this time he was alone.
“I honestly wasn’t sure if you were going to make it this time” he explained as a way of greeting, out of breath from trying to sit up, I simply nodded.
“We need to have a chat and you need to start thinking about what you want to do, you can’t take many more hits like this. It is time you start thinking seriously about having a lung transplant.”
His tone was clear, there was no thinking about it, he expected me to agree to have a lung transplant, in his mind there was no debate. But in mine there was, “do I want to keep on fighting to live?” I asked myself, I was so tired of this constant battle, it would be so much easier to let it all go. It is a tough question many people may face in their lives, continue to fight, or just submit and let it all go, it becomes tougher when the man who has spent so much time and effort trying to keep you alive is standing at the edge of your bed looking at you, and all you can think to say to him is, “I think I want to die.”
“I want to say no.” I told mum, it was 2 months after I had spoken with David, he had convinced me to at least go through the assessment procedure in case I changed my mind. “Whatever you decide, we will support you.” Mum replied, I looked into her eyes, I could see the sadness and the hurt, she wanted me to say yes to the transplant, she wanted me to choose life, but she didn’t understand, how could she? She didn’t have to wake up at night coughing so hard it caused her to black out, she didn’t have to set her alarm half an hour earlier in the morning to face the onslaught of coughs that shook her entire body, leaving her exhausted and unable to breath, she didn’t have to stop to rest after walking for 50 metres because she was out of breath. I was tired, I wanted off this train, I wanted it to be over.
Unwillingly ripped from my slumber, to be confronted with something I could only register as “not silent”, still half asleep my brain managed to comprehend there was noise, but could not understand why there was noise, after a brief second the part of me that was slightly more awake realised it was my phone, I checked the time, it was 1 a.m. on the 17th of July 2015, “Unknown number” kept flashing on my screen, while the theme song to James Bond interrupted the early morning silence.
“Hello?” I manage to croak out.
“Hi Ash, it’s Kathy, the lung transplant coordinator, we need you to get here as soon as you can, we have some donor lungs, and they are a match!”
“Ok, see you soon, thanks.”
As I hung up the phone I lay back down, completely void of emotion, this was it, was I ready for this? Could I just go back to sleep and pretend I didn’t get the call, just wake up tomorrow like nothing happened? It had been a bit over a year since David had mentioned the idea of having a lung transplant to me, and it had been a month and 14 days since they found David’s body unresponsive in his apartment, despite the best effort of medical professionals he was unable to be resuscitated. David’s funeral was one of the biggest I had been to, filled with friends, family, medical professionals, and patients, so many people’s lives changed because of him.
Many friends and family had spoken to me, trying to convince me to go ahead with the transplant, and to a degree they had succeeded, but in the end, it was the loss of a man who had worked so hard to get me on that list, who no matter how sick I was, he took great delight in teasing me about accidentally shaving off my beard, a man who I had respected my entire adult life, I could not refuse it now, I could not turn the effort he had put into keeping me alive into a mockery of his life by refusing my one and only second chance, I took a deep breath, and dialled another number, the phone was answered on the first ring.
“It’s time to go.”
Beep… Beep… Beep…
The machine kept a steady rhythm, it wasn’t going to be the next big summer dance track, but it was one I was happy to hear, it let me know I was alive, I had made it through the surgery, and I was slowly regaining consciousness. Unfortunately, I soon realised regaining consciousness after having your lungs ripped out and new ones shoved in, is probably only marginally better than being sodomized by an angry bear wearing a pine cone prophylactic. Pain ripped through my body, everywhere hurt and the places that didn’t hurt felt weaker than an anti vaxxers arguments against science. I opened my eyes to see my family standing, looking at me, as they noticed my eyes open, I saw their look of concern be washed away by joyful relief, they had been fretting, waiting by the phone from the moment I was wheeled into the operating theatre, till the time the surgeon called 10 hours later to tell them it had all gone well and I was being wheeled into recovery. They tried to talk to me, but the tube coming out of my mouth from my lungs proved to make conversation difficult, well that, and the copious amount of drugs the hospital had me on.
They decided to leave promising to return later that day or tomorrow, as they left I allowed my head to fall back, my eyes stared blankly at the ceiling, a barrage of thoughts began to crash through my mind, like an angry sea that harbingers a violent storm, “What have I done? I can’t handle this, I don’t want this, take it back!” Over and over again, I felt despair begin to wash over me, the decision I had felt so sure of just two weeks ago, now felt like a monumental mistake, an error in judgement on everyone’s behalf, how could we not see that I couldn’t handle this, there must have been a mistake in the paperwork, as the darkness threatened to overwhelm me, I saw a brief shining of light, like the early morning sun rays after a night of terror, I thought about how my family looked at me 10 minutes ago, they were here for me, they loved me, they wanted me to live, the dark thoughts drifted away like smoke on a breeze, “I will get through this for them, I will get through this for me,” I decided.
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