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  • Writer's pictureNadiah Sakurai

3 skills I learned at the Future Proof Program

From January to the end of June this year, I was fortunate to be a part of the Future Proof Program hosted by Invest Ottawa. The Future Proof Program was part of Digital Main Street (DMS), an initiative to assist local businesses transition online. DMS was set up as a means to support businesses tackle the challenges caused by COVID-19. The program helped businesses create websites, develop digital marketing strategies, and provided them with the tools to future-proof their businesses online. I joined as a copywriter in a Transformation Team and worked with clients to produce compelling copy for their social media posts, web copy, ads, email marketing, and more.

During this six-month program, I worked alongside talented digital marketers, web designers, and graphic designers. The experience I gained was not just copywriting. I gained the experience of project managing, working in a fast-paced environment, communicating with clients, presenting our deliverables, and developing digital marketing strategies. However, there are three skills I acquired in particular that stands out to me. Without the Future Proof Program, these might have been skills I would not have gained for another couple of years. In this reflection blog article, I want to introduce these skills and how they have affected my thought process as a copywriter.

Skill 1. Listening to clients

Listening to a paper telephone. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

One of the most crucial skills I have gotten out of my time at Invest Ottawa is listening to the client and understanding:

  1. where they stand, 

  2. what they want to be accomplish, and 

  3. where they want to be.

When I first started the position, I was thinking “what can I do for them” and “what I think should be done”. I was working on the deliverables from a first person perspective, planning the deliverables based on my knowledge. However, through the six-month period, I realized this is not how successful copywriting, or digital marketing in general, should be done. Through experience and Lunch n’ Learn sessions organized by Darlene Moore, our Digital Lead Manager, I discovered it was more important to listen to the clients. After all, they were the ones running their business. They knew who their target audience was, what was working in their industry, and how their businesses were different from others. As a copywriter, these are essential information needed to deliver engaging copy. This is why listening to the clients is extremely crucial. 

Listen and ask questions:

  1. Who is your target audience?

  2. What are their pain points?

  3. How does your business offer a solution to their pain points?

  4. What are your service/product’s top three features?

  5. What are your service/product’s top three benefits?

  6. Why did you start your business?

  7. How has your business grown since then?

  8. What is your industry trend at the moment?

  9. Who are your main competitors?

Another thing listening does is help understand their business story. Why did they start the business, what did the business mean to them, and how do they want their audience to perceive them. Emphasize not only with the target audience but also with the business itself. Copywriting is more than writing, it is about being a skilled storyteller. For each client I worked with, I tried to schedule a one-on-one meeting where I could dive into these questions and get to know their business and the clients as a person on a personal level.

Skill 2. Researching

Research graphs and a magnifying glass. Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on

As a newbie to copywriting, I first thought the most important aspect of copywriting was writing. However, within the first month working at Invest Ottawa, I was proved wrong.

Before writing, research had to be done to:

  1. analyze competitors, 

  2. understand the market, 

  3. identify the target audience, and 

  4. know where the client currently stands. 

In order to write compelling copy, it is crucial to gather as much information as possible about the business and the industry. Not only do you need to know what competitors are up to but as a copywriter, you need to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the industry. This means knowing the terminologies, understanding frameworks and processes, learning about the latest news, and identifying key influencers. The more research was done, the more comfortable I became writing for the business. During my time at the Future Proof Program, I worked with clients whose industry I knew nothing about such as instructional design, intellectual property, sustainable fashion, and golf. Now, I have a basic understanding of each of these topics having spent two to three days dedicating my time to research.

SEO Research

Another key area of research I spent a considerable amount of time doing was Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keyword research. To be honest, I entered the program with the minimum understanding of SEO. I knew SEO was used to rank higher on the first page of Google. But that was about all that I knew. During the program, I entered the rabbit hole that is SEO. Again, through the Lunch n’ Learns scheduled, I gained an understanding of how to utilize SEO – how to optimize on-site and off-site. I researched keywords using tools such as Moz and Ahrefs. Not only listing the keywords that had high traffic but also analyzing the search intent and the keyword difficulty. I learned about long-tail keywords and incorporated them in the blogs I had written for my clients. I analyzed websites on their current SEO standing – identifying issues such as duplicate content, missing meta descriptions, and thin contents, providing suggestions on how clients could fix them. SEO became an area I was genuinely interested in and is a skill I plan on cultivating further. 

Skill 3. Time management

A clock with duo color background – pink and blue. Photo by Moose Photos on

Last but not least, time management skills. The Future Proof Program made a tremendous impact on my project management skills. We were always working in a fast-paced environment. Each team had two clients to work with simultaneously over the course of two weeks. With a high turnover rate, it was crucial our deliverables and tasks were all delivered on time. Thankfully, our digital lead and management team provided us with tips on time management. 

Time Tracking

One advice that proved effective was time tracking. Using the Teamwork app, we listed all our tasks for each project and was able to track the time spent on each task. In the beginning, I was skeptical. Why would understanding how much time spent on a task be useful? Shouldn’t we just focus on finishing the task instead of worrying about time tracking? Boy, was I wrong. As I got used to tracking my time, I realized I was able to manage my time better as I knew how much time I would typically spend on a certain task. I was able to plan my two weeks more efficiently, setting up mini-deadlines for each task so there was ample time to work on each of them.


Another tip our management gave us was to create, share, and use templates – especially for guides. At the start, I spent most of my time creating guides for my clients, providing them with details and examples. However, as time went on, I realized guides weren’t as practical to the clients who were already running around managing their business. This realization changed the deliverables I provided. Instead of guides and how tos, I provided templates and ready-to-go posts. Occasionally, I did provide clients with guides. But, the guides I gave were ones that I had prepared before – just changing the specifics for each clients e.g., target persona, examples, and industry related information. This saved so much time and allowed me to focus on researching and crafting the copy.


Now that my time with the Future Proof Program has ended, it is time for me to pursue a new opportunity. However, the skills I have gained from the Future Proof Program will always be engrained in me. I am grateful for the Future Proof Program. It has taught me valuable skills and allowed me to gain experience in a variety of areas – B2B, B2C, social media, SEO, web copy, UI/UX writing, etc. But what I am grateful for the most is the opportunity to work with amazing people – both within the Future Proof Program and the clients. Everyone I had worked with was kind, communicative, reliable and responsible. They motivated me to strive for the best and have taught me so much. To my team members, digital leads, management team, Lunch n’ Learn guest speakers, and clients, thank you. I have learned a lot from you and hope we can stay connected. 

Interested in the deliverables I have created for my clients?

Reach out to me for my portfolio.

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