It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

The hardest part is getting started…

This has been a theme of some of my recent calls for my Financial Copywriters Workshop.  So much ambition — but that hasn’t translated into getting their careers off the ground.

They see me as their savior — their opportunity to finally get their first projects under their belt.

And yet, I’m turning them down.

I’m saying, “Come back when you have some experience.”

Which I know is painful…

“But, but…  You say I need experience to go for this opportunity, and yet it’s opportunities like this that will get me experience!”

It’s the catch-22 of the beginner in any field.

Today, I’ll speak to this head-on.  Plus reveal an ugly truth about getting started as a freelance copywriter (or really in anything else).

Today, a belated Mailbox Monday…

I hope you had a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.  We managed to get a family bike ride in yesterday afternoon, in between rain storms.  Which, unfortunately, is more than can be said for the Huksers game I was so excited about.  Due to a wall of thunderstorms that hit in between the kickoff and the first play of the game, the game was delayed, then canceled.  Next Saturday, against Colorado, we’ll see how the Huskers perform in their much-anticipated first game of the Scott Frost era…

But on to today’s issue.

Remember, to have YOUR question answered in an upcoming Mailbox Monday, simply click here and submit it.

On to today’s question…


I want to become a freelance copywriter.  How can I start freelance copywriting career, and go from zero to hero?

– G

Where do we begin?  Let’s start with the ugly truth…

Your potential is worthless.  Only your actions have or create worth.

This has been a bitter pill for me to swallow, throughout my life and career.  And one that I still struggle with.

It’s the curse of the Millennial.  (Although I struggle to identify myself with that or any generation.)

You’re told everybody has worth.  That you have great potential.  That you’re perfect just the way you are.

And that might be true.

In fact, in a spiritual sense, I believe you are perfect just as you are.

I believe everyone has a unique potential to add value to the world.

But at the same time, I also believe that the world can be a cold and bitter place that rewards competition for resources.

These are vastly different ways to perceive the world.

But in the words of Emerson, “I am vast, I contain multitudes.”

When it comes time to talk about careers and gathering resources (aka making fat stacks of cash) you need to understand which perspective applies.

In the workplace (and in any marketplace or field of competition), it’s not about your potential.

It’s about WHAT YOU DO.

Since it’s the beginning of football season and I have that on my mind and haven’t worn out the topic yet, I’ll use that metaphor again.

Just imagine the 5-star recruit, high school football superstar.

They show up to their college football team with all the pomp and circumstance of royalty.

And they let it get to their head.  They are God’s gift to football.  They are the best.

So they don’t work as hard.  They don’t train as hard.  They don’t bring their 5-star talent to practice.

But the third-string recruit for their position, who walked on and didn’t get a scholarship, is hungry.  They work harder in the gym.  They work harder on the practice field.  They work harder reviewing tapes.  They work harder in the classroom.

And that third-string is suddenly out-playing the second-string player.  Then, the 5-star recruit gets beat.  Once.  Then another time.  Then it becomes a pattern.

And suddenly, they’re consistently outplaying that player with “excellent potential.”

And they get the starting job.

And they play.

While the player with potential watches from the sidelines.

(Incidentally, I read an article this spring that Scott Frost pretty much told all the players that they had to earn their spot on the Huskers roster every week.  He treats every single player with the utmost respect, but when it comes time to decide who starts and gets playing time, it’s about who has earned it in practice.  He knows that football games are NOT won with potential, but in how every player contributes to every play of the game.  As in all competition, including your work.)

So, what does this have to do with starting a freelance copywriting career?

In short, it’s about taking the right physical action steps toward starting your career.

Go get a client.  Do a project for them.  And repeat.

That’s how you start.  That’s how you get going.  That’s how you go from zero to hero.

You’re NOT a copywriter just because you call yourself one, or want to be, or see your potential.  You’re NOT even a copywriter because you read one or a hundred copy books (although you’re smart to start with my top 10 list of copywriting books, and then keep studying beyond that).  You’re NOT a copywriter when you hand-copy sales letters of the greats, or even write practice copy.

You are a copywriter when you are paid to write copy that goes out into the marketplace and either gets a response or doesn’t.


Because you can learn from failure.  You can try another angle.  You can run another test.  You can rewrite the copy — or move on to the next project.

Failure is a persistent reality in direct response marketing, even among the world’s best copywriters.

But the ONLY way you become a copywriter is by writing copy and putting it in the marketplace.

And the only way to become a freelance copywriter is to do that for a client business.  (Alternately, or concurrently, you can write copy for your own business — which I highly recommend because the stakes are higher when your cash is on the line in getting ROI.)

Now, for the icing on the cake…

NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU can turn your potential into action…

I know, using caps is yelling.  But for those who need to hear this, that’s EXACTLY what I’m doing!

You can’t turn to anybody else to turn your potential into action.

I mentioned above that I’ve struggled with this.  There are times when my productivity hits the skids.  And even with my own personal coach who specializes in helping me maximize my performance, I run into harsh reality…

When it all comes down to it, nobody but me can make me do what I need to do.

I’m the one who has to bang on this keyboard.

I’m the one who has to do the thinking.

I’m the one who has to get on client calls.

I’m the one who has to choose to do hard work over pursuing easier and more pleasurable activities that scream for me to pursue them.

I’m the one who has to battle resistance head-on.

I’m the one.

Not you.

Not anybody else.

If I don’t do it, nobody will.

And if you don’t do it, nobody will.

All the potential or desire or knowledge or understanding won’t get us to our goals.

Rather, putting one foot in front of another, and doing the work is what will take us on our journey.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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