Let’s talk about what makes money come to you…
The following is a post I’ve reprinted in Breakthrough Marketing Secrets from time to time. It was only my fourth post ever written after starting these daily essays. It’s also in the Appendix of The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid.
Even if you’ve read it before, I encourage you to read it again.
Because after the article, I’ll take a look at it under a new light, from a new angle, looking for new insights.
Here’s the article — and at its end, we’ll reflect on a principle of money-getting reflected in the article that few understand, but that greatly benefits those who do…
(And it’s written to copywriters, but it’s so much more than that — especially with the added point on the end…)
My response to a copywriter looking for career advice
From time to time I get copywriters approaching me for career advice.
I recently, for example, set up a coaching/copy chief arrangement with a copywriter, and helped her score a big opportunity with one of the major financial publishers. (She had the right attitude: she paid first, asked for advice after.)
And then there’s a guy who has emailed me a few times over the last few years asking for advice. And I’ve been a sucker and spent a little bit of time emailing back and forth each time. (I’m becoming more of a curmudgeon about this — don’t think about it unless you’re willing to pay my hourly consulting fees.)
So he comes around again in the last few weeks, asking for more advice.
Turns out he hasn’t done much of anything I recommended before, but it still bugs him that he’s not yet living “The Writer’s Life” and earning six-figures as a copywriter.
And now he’s questioning whether or not it’s worth spending an hour on the phone with me to get his questions answered.
Without saying it directly, he’s asking me if spending an hour on the phone with me will give him 1.) guaranteed entry into the high-paying direct response copywriting world, and 2.) guaranteed six-figure income… Which he broke down to $8,500 per month.
Listen, I get that you want it.
I get that it’s what you’ve been promised.
And I know for a fact it’s friggin’ real.
Those of us in the hallowed halls of direct response copywriting are NOT making it up.
However, you’re NOT going to get it just by buying an hour of my time, or buying a copywriting course (even the good ones that I own), or anything other than dogged determination and hard work.
Okay, here’s the email…
And he was nervous about “airing his laundry in public” so I have made sure that NOTHING in here is personally identifiable…
My response to your email will not be what you want. But it will be what you need.
What you’re asking me for is a magic pill or magic button that will get you instant copywriting success. You’re not going to get that by changing industries. You’re not going to get that in an hour on the phone with me. You’re not going to get that in this email, either.
And as long as you’re focused on the money you get instead of the value you create and provide, you’re never going to get it.
I read this on the first of every month. You would be well-served by reading it frequently and internalizing its “harsh truths.”
Eminem’s recent song Rap God has a line I have pasted on my wall, “Full of myself, but still hungry, I bully myself ’cause I make me do what I put my mind to, and I’m a million leagues above you.”
Without fail, the most successful people I know bully themselves. They don’t talk about it. You won’t find it in a self-help book, because it’s not an idea that the magic pill buyers want to buy. But from time to time they’ll let a line slip that talks about how hard they are on themselves.
You need to make yourself do the work.
Study the masters. Old and new. Learn the industry yourself. Nothing I can tell you in an email or an hour or a year will matter — you have to learn, I can’t teach.
Learn to sell. Get an in-person sales job. I used to sell newspaper subscriptions in grocery stores. I’ve also sold credit cards, appliance repair plans, IT training solutions, nonprofit donations, and more. Apply those principles in writing.
Do your own homework. If you rely on someone to do it for you, you will never earn six figures in this biz.
There are people in all sorts of industries earning six-figures from copywriting. I’m certain there are at least a few copywriters in your niche earning six figures, doing the same kind of work you insist you can’t earn six-figures on. The grass is always greener, my friend. Until you get there. You can either waste your life looking for greener pastures, or you can cultivate the one you’re in. You do that by focusing on providing real value, and not being caught up in “How can I create the six-figure writer’s life dream for myself?” It’ll come if you’re doing the right things. But spending all day obsessing about that is not the right thing.
Folks in the direct response field earn six-figures because of RESULTS generated.
You want to make $8,500 per month? I’ll show you the fastest, easiest way to do it.
First, find a client who will pay you 3% royalties on sales generated. Most beginning copywriters can get that. Then, find a way to make them $283,333 per month in sales. If you can get them to agree to a 5% royalty, simply make them $170,000 per month. They will be ecstatic to pay you $8,500 per month. You want to make twice as much? Make your clients twice as much.
If I want to make $1 million from a single piece of sales copy — which is my next big goal — I know how to do it. If I’m working for a client, I simply have to write a piece of sales copy that generates $20 million in sales at a 5% royalty. Notice, my focus is not on my $1 million. It’s on how I can make my client $20 million. They’ll be happy to write me that check for $1 million after that. And I will have earned it.
It’s not easy. Most direct response copywriters spend their first 5 or so years still really learning their chops and getting experience. They spend their next 5 getting really good. And those who manage to stick that out spend the rest of their careers getting rich. Even the legends — Gary Bencivenga, Gary Halbert, Dan Kennedy, Eugene Schwartz, (and so on, and so on) — went through this same process. Me and all the writers you mentioned are NOT new to this game, either. We’ve all had our learning curves. We all stuck with it. And all of us feel like we’re just getting started…
I’m not going to tell you anything more helpful in an hour on the phone than what I’ve just told you now.
If you take this to heart and use it, and change your mind about this whole thing, this email will be worth that six-figures you’re looking for. If you don’t, well, there’s nothing else I can do for you.
Wishing you the best,
There you have it. The secret to earning six-figures (or even $1 million!) while living the writer’s lifestyle as a freelance copywriter.
Or you can apply the same skills and start your own business. There’s even more opportunity in doing that! And if you want to make a fortune starting your own business, I have a magic easy button to sell you… All you have to do is push it before you go to bed tonight and you’ll wake up rich tomorrow. I swear.
Or you can get real about what it takes to be successful in business and marketing… Stick around.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Here’s the bigger lesson about making money in that article…
In short, when you focus on the money, it won’t come.
You MUST focus on the value you give.
It’s becoming more and more true as we speak, as reviews and social proof drive sales. Whether or not you want to run a “transparent” company, the market is becoming transparent. Everybody talks to everybody. Buyers search for your product on Google before they click “buy.” Reviews are trusted at 10X the level of sales copy.
You must deliver value.
Create value worth talking about. Create more value. Create more value.
Or, in the words of Peter Diamandis: “Want to become a billionaire? Come up with a way to help a billion people.”
Maybe you don’t want to become a billionaire. Maybe you don’t care to have that much money. Or, maybe you do.
No matter where you’re aiming, the truth still applies…
If you want money to come to you, you make that happen by doing things that other people find valuable.
Sure, you have to have a business model built around it.
But if you don’t focus on the VALUE FIRST then nothing else you do will matter.
That’s it for today.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS: I know this wasn’t my standard Mailbox Monday issue, so I’m going to do a Mailbox Tuesday for you tomorrow instead.