Hey there, it’s Monday again!
Which means it’s time to dig in the ol’ mailbox…
In a moment, we’ll check out today’s question.
But first, a reminder. If YOU want to get YOUR question answered — about business, marketing, copywriting, selling, life, whatever — you’ve gotta let me know.
Drop me a line with your question at [email protected] and I’ll throw ya in the ol’ queue, and you’ll see your answer here within the next few weeks.
Okay, on to today’s question…
Can you give some advice to the relatively new copywriter who has made it to “the trenches” and has:
1) A full slate of paid work.
2) A lot of great educational resources on copywriting sitting on a shelf/hard drive, some starting to get dusty.
To restate, how much time do you reserve for ongoing education during periods when you’re working your butt off? And do you ever pull back on your workload when you realize you haven’t cracked a copywriting info resource open in a while?
Related: Do you count on the things you’ve been studying to just organically show up in your copy, or do you make a point of saying “I’m going to apply that thing I read about in XXXXX on this project”?
How do you make sure your studies aren’t just an academic exercise, but rather translate to the most $$$ possible, for the client and for you?
Okie dokie… Let’s dig in.
I love talking about learning.
For one, I have a selfish reason. I’m in the learning biz (and many of my clients are, too). And so talking about educating yourself falls under topics that should make me more money in the long term. How’s that for transparency?
That said, I also believe in lifelong learning! I don’t just tell you it’s something you should do — I live it. And so I’m constantly reading and listening to programs and books, podcasts, and so on… Plus attending conferences, and in general picking up all the best I can from as many places as possible.
In short, I believe if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And if you’re not growing your career knowledge, you’re killing your career.
There’s a reason so many other professions (the ones that require degrees and certifications to get into them) have a continuing education requirement. They know that the body of knowledge that represents any active field’s best practices is constantly evolving. And if you don’t keep up with it, your ability to get results in your work quickly diminishes to less than it can or should be.
And so, even though in marketing and business there’s no continuing education requirement, you should make one for yourself.
In fact, on the main opt-in page on my site, I have a video that breaks down what an extreme difference it makes to dedicate yourself to consistent improvement.
Just 1% improvement per week — over a decades-long career — makes you so astronomically good at your job, it’s hardly believable.
That is, until you discover who I learned this principle from. One, Mr. Gary Bencivenga — widely regarded as the greatest living copywriter.
If you’re content living a life in the mediocre middle, you probably don’t have to dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. But you wouldn’t be reading Breakthrough Marketing Secrets if you were dedicated to life in the mediocre middle. No, you’re reading this because you want to do bigger things, to enjoy greater success, to be the best.
And so you choose to continue expanding and increasing and growing your knowledge and abilities…
Yet it’s not so easy when life is busy, you’re busy, client deadlines are pressing, and you need to finish projects to pay your bills…
Trust me, I know the feeling!
Which brings us around to the questions James asked.
First, let’s talk about how to balance education and work.
Here’s my little secret.
I get most of my education in during non-work hours. Now, if you’re working 16 hour days, every day, this doesn’t apply.
But not me. I spend time exercising, doing things around the house, and so on, that allow me to throw on a set of headphones and listen.
I also hook my phone up to the stereo on my car when I’m running around town, and I used to do it every day on my commute to work.
That’s when I get the most learning time in.
As you can imagine, that means I do best with audio resources.
And I’m able to further compress my learning by listening to things at 2X speed. Apple’s Podcasts app has that built in, as does an app called SmarterPlayer that gives you more control when listening to your iTunes library. (If you’re on Android or another platform, you can surely find audio apps that do the same.) It’s weird to listen to everything at 2X at first, but when you get used to it, it definitely becomes your preferred way to learn.
With that, I can spend hours per week learning without giving up productive work time.
I do also spend some of my work time reading marketing-related (or market-related, for markets I write for) emails, websites, and so on. Like Breakthrough Marketing Secrets!
I know that I start to feel itchy if I go a week or so without doing some significant learning.
Gotta get my 1% per week!
The biggest point I’ll make about all this is that the time adds up, quickly.
When I worked my last job, my house was approximately a 10-minute drive from work. That’s hardly any time at all. And yet, if I listened to something on the way to and from work every day, that was 20 minutes per day.
That’s 100 minutes per week — the equivalent weekly teaching time to many university-level courses. Listen at double speed, and it’s actually 200 minutes worth of content per week. 50 weeks per year, and you’re getting 10,000 hours worth of audio content, in your 10-minute commute.
You won’t remember it all. A fraction of it. But that’s okay.
And the truth is, if you consume this much information, there will be a ton of redundancy.
That’s actually beneficial. One, it helps with memory. Two, the more often a point is repeated by other people, the more weight you can probably get it. Sure, the masses can share delusions. But if you choose your teachers wisely, and they all agree on a topic, you can be reasonably sure it’s something worth remembering.
Which gets us to the second big question, on applying what you learn…
With all the info I consume, I tend to trust my subconscious to bring it out when it’s relevant.
I definitely do not try to apply my latest learning to my latest project, unless it makes sense.
Rather, what often happens is that I’m listening to something in my off-time, while I’m knee- or neck-deep in a project. And whoever I’m learning from will say something that superficially seems unrelated to my project. And yet, because my subconscious is always looking to make connections (yours is too), I make one. So I’m able to apply that lesson on whatever it is I’m working on.
Which brings me to an important final topic…
Tracking ROI on learning investments…
In short, I don’t.
Why should I waste my time or mental energy trying to get a ROI on every little learning investment I make?
Instead, it makes a ton more sense to me to continue feeding my conscious and subconscious mind with what I need to succeed.
And as long as I don’t spend too much out of my total income on learning and advancing my skills, and my income continues to support my ongoing learning, I’m fine with that.
Some folks may think that’s an atrocity. But if you do, I think there may be something deeper at work, undermining your potential success. What? A scarcity mindset. The belief that there’s only so much to go around. And if I spend too much money on educational resources, I won’t have enough to take home at the end of the day.
I suggest you instead adopt an abundance mindset. Most folks I know who’ve truly dedicated themselves to lifelong learning have given themselves a near-unlimited budget to do so. And it does not come back to bite them. Because the results grow with the investment of time and money. And if you believe that will happen, all the way down to your core, you will most likely do things (unconsciously) to make it happen.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Breakthrough Marketing Secrets