I love the idea of copywriting as a retirement gig…
You’re retired. Presumably you have more flexibility in your income needs (hence why it’s retirement, and not just an ongoing career). And you may want the flexibility to travel, take time off, and so on.
Copywriting is perfect for that.
It’s definitely far better than a greeter gig at your local big box store.
But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Is it really that great of a gig when you have to deal with the realities of copywriting as a BUSINESS?
That’s what we’ll address head-on in today’s Mailbox Monday issue…
Remember, every Monday is the weekly issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets dedicated to answering YOUR questions. Have a question? Send it in here.
Here’s today’s question…
I have been studying copywriting, content writing, and newsletter creation, among other writing ideas, for about 8 years.
I love it all. Have only one client now and I confess the truth: he is a relative. I produce a monthly newsletter for him.
I cannot seem to figure out what to do to get clients. I have bought so many programs, joined so many other groups—but I cannot seem to get going. I guess I suffer from “not quite good enough yet” syndrome.
Then I found your site. You are doing it! How do I get off the fence and Just Do It?
One more thing. I am 85 years old. I would like to prove that age really doesn’t matter in this business. I want to encourage more seniors to get involved.
First: let’s “Call the Dead Moose…”
Marty Edelston, founder of Boardroom, Inc., had an important principle that contributed to how he ran his business. It was to “Call the Dead Moose.”
Have you ever been in a group conversation where everyone really knows what the important thing to talk about is, but because it’s an uncomfortable topic, nobody will bring it up?
That topic is the “Dead Moose.”
And Marty knew that to get through an uncomfortable topic, you have to actually admit its existence first.
Hence, if there’s a “Dead Moose” on the conference room table, you have to point to it and say it’s there.
The Dead Moose: Discrimination exists in the direct response industry, just like any other…
One beauty of direct response is that once your copy is written and on the page, people don’t know who you are. So you could be a purple people eater and write copy for a client, and when they put it out it doesn’t matter how much the public hates purple people eaters, your copy will win or lose on its ability to persuade.
This makes direct response feel like an industry that should not have discrimination.
But alas, it’s an industry full of human beings. So as much as we live in the results economy and prize results above all else, we bring all our human shortcomings. And because it’s a default condition of humans to accept people in our in-group and reject those in our out-group, there’s still discrimination based on all kinds of factors.
I won’t repeat the details of bar conversations, but I can tell you I’ve heard overt discrimination in the innermost sanctum of direct response.
I’ve also seen people prove that discrimination for what it is: totally irrational and wrong.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t influence how easy or difficult it will be for you to get opportunities.
So back to this particular instance…
Your copy will not be subject to ageism, but YOU might be…
It’s no secret that age is one reason people get discriminated against in our culture. Both young and old are treated negatively based on age. And so if you’re either, you will probably face an extra burden of proof that your age will not influence your performance.
Now for the good news…
If you’re aware of it, you can deflect or dissipate it.
You could even use it to your advantage.
I don’t know what niche you’re targeting, but perhaps you’d target a niche that shares your interests. If so, you have true life experience that could resonate with the market. And if you can speak from your life experiences in a way that’s consistent with direct response best practices, you may be particularly adept at communicating with that market.
The book Method Marketing by Denny Hatch should be an inspiration.
It is full of stories of people with widely-varying experience in copywriting. Everyone from the first-time copywriter to full-time professionals. And it details their stories in resonating with a market. It shows how by getting inside the mind of your market, you don’t need experience in copywriting to connect and generate response. You simply have to know who you’re speaking with, and speak to them on a deeply human and personal level.
I hope that with age has come wisdom, and that you could write a compelling letter to a friend about a topic you both care about. If you can do that, there’s no reason you can’t be a successful copywriter at any age.
The key is to find a market where you can get paid what you need to get paid, writing to people you’d consider to be friends.
When you truly believe you’ve found that market, you can have confidence. You can have confidence that you’ll be able to write a message that will resonate with them. Not in spite of your age. But because of your age and experience. And when you have that confidence, you can approach clients.
Getting clients, no matter your age…
Clients don’t buy copywriting. They don’t even buy the results you get from copywriting. They don’t know any of that in advance — and they can’t know the results.
But they do buy confidence. They buy your confidence that you’ll be able to write copy on their behalf, that will have the desired result in speaking with their audience.
If you find a market you are confident you can resonate with, and find businesses that serve that market, you simply need to approach them. Tell them you’re confident you can help them connect with their prospects and customers, and get them to take action.
And then make the best offer you can, that defers as much of their risk in the transaction as possible.
Remember, early you’re simply looking for experience. Make it as easy as possible for them to give you experience. When you have more results to your name, you can demand more. And early on, experience and a little paycheck is better than no experience because you place irrational compensation demands on the client.
So gather all your confidence that you can speak to a business’s customer and prospect base. And approach them with that confidence in your heart, and offer to help.
Then, do that a dozen times.
And keep doing it, until you have more work than you can handle.
You will get rejected. Your rejection rate will be highest before you have experience. But if you persist, you are likely to get one opportunity, then another, then another.
The key is, as you said, to simply “Just Do It.”
And then when it hurts because you got rejected, “Just Do It” again, and again, and again.
One last note…
You can’t avoid the age question, but you don’t have to bring it up.
You will inevitably run into some people who are hesitant to hire you, based on your age. To those people, bring out your best persuasion skills and try to position your age and life experience as an advantage. Like all persuasion, some will buy into it, and some won’t. But when asked, be honest.
That said, in today’s digital age, you can have a first few interactions with a potential client that are all online, and won’t necessarily reveal your age. Use this first impression to let your writing and communication ability shine, so when they do find out your age, it will carry less weight.
I’m not saying this will be easy.
But we all come to our life and career with advantages and disadvantages. Any life, when viewed from the inside, will include a thousand reasons for self-doubt. I know mine does.
The challenge is to show up and live your best life, given the hand you’ve been dealt. To bring your best to this current moment, for all the positives and negatives it contains.
If you are indeed able to do this, I believe copywriting offers opportunities for anyone from 15 to 105, and anywhere in between.
The question is: what are your unique opportunities, and what will you do to seize them?
Now, go do that…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,