Happy Mailbox Monday!
Just a reminder, every Monday is the day where I answer YOUR questions regarding marketing, copywriting, business, selling, and more.
All you gotta do is send your questions in to [email protected] and if I think it will make for a good Monday email (mostly — if I think it will be helpful enough for a big block of my readers), I’ll queue you up for the next available spot.
So… Digging into the mailbox here to see what we see…
I’ve got a copywriting question from loyal reader Jimmy Bradburn…
I like your comments to Vikas first thing.
My actual question is what is the single most important step to take as a new copywriter want to be?
I know that persistence and practice are critically important on a regular basis. I realize that getting some small exposure and practice with a small local firm or business is a good starting point.
My own guess would be to build a website to advertise yourself. But, I am not certain that this would be the most important first step to really get some positive forward traction as a copywriter.
I really would like to hear your thoughts on this matter.
Okay Jimmy, I have some good news and some bad news for you.
The good news? Once you get through this first step you have to take to get started, you’ll never have to take that first step again.
The bad news? The first step is the one that often FEELS the hardest to take.
More good news. Since you’re very early on in your copywriting career, the reality is that just about nobody is paying attention. (That may seem like a bad thing, until you do something embarrassing, at which point you realize what a good thing it is!) Okay, just trying to have a little fun here. But the reality is that early on in our careers, we ALL screw up. I certainly did. With clients who I have very positive relationships with to this day. It’s not the end of the world to have even big failures when you’re new. Not if you decide you’re going to make it through, and come out stronger on the other side.
Enough of that tangent. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. The real, tangible advice that can get your copywriting career going.
The way I see it, there are only TWO things you should be doing, if you have aspirations of grand success as a copywriter.
And NEITHER ONE actually involves promoting your copywriting business, or setting up a website, or anything like that. While I do think those are important at some point in the future, I believe they’re total time-wasters and procrastination monsters right now.
You see, you’re not REALLY getting experience when you try to start your copywriting career by starting a website.
All you’re doing is killing time between now and when you actually have to put your copy out into the marketplace and see how it works.
Here are your two options I recommend instead.
1. Get a client.
You want to be a freelance copywriter? Go be one.
You’re going to learn way more…
You’re going to get real-world UNDERSTANDING of what you’ve already been learning…
And you’ll comprehend so much more deeply through experience…
There’s NOTHING that can be experience. It’s the School of Hard Knocks.
Yes, this will force you to face failure. It will also force you to face success.
But it will get your momentum going.
It will get your first client experience behind you (and you’ll keep at it, so it’ll get your second, and third, and…).
You’ll understand not only the copywriting aspect of the business, but the business aspect of the business.
Yes, you’ll have to face up to the fact that you’re new, and find a way to spin that to the client’s advantage. And take away their risk in trying you. But these are core selling skills that will pay you back for your entire career.
And ultimately, when it comes time to set up that website or whatever else becomes more important as you’re more established… You’ll have interesting things to talk about — things your clients will care about — success stories with clients and businesses a lot like them!
Alternately, you can…
2. Sell your own products.
I think this route is just as valid as the freelance route. AND it can be more fruitful.
First off, there’s no better training ground for learning to write effective, sales-multiplied marketing copy than your own business.
It’s your money on the line, you’re going to pay attention to the results you generate.
You’ll feel them viscerally.
You’ll feel them when your dinner table is either full or empty.
They’ll mean something to you… A lot more than numbers on a spreadsheet, or in an email.
Plus, you’ll succeed or fail of your own accord.
You’ll have no choice but to take responsibility for your numbers. For your results.
And if you’re hungry, you’ll figure out — quick — what it takes to succeed. What it takes to double sales, or double profits.
You’ll learn all about marketing approaches and opportunities on a level a “guns for hire” freelancer never will.
In fact, this is why copywriters who used to own successful businesses — most often, who built and sold them, like reader Doberman Dan, for example — are in such high demand, and command such high fees.
Because the people who hire them know they know how to write copy that gets real results.
Alternately, you may find you’re successful enough in your own business, making TOO MUCH MONEY to consider ever going the freelance route. I know a few copywriters who’ve done just that. And, at best, trade their copywriting skills for partnerships or ownership stakes in future multi-million and even billion dollar businesses.
There you go, the only two things you should be doing to get started as a copywriter…
Both involve writing copy, and getting it into the market as fast as possible.
Either by getting a gig with a real client (or a job with them)…
Or by starting your own business and practicing your own copy by selling your own products…
These are both the proven training grounds of many of the world’s greatest copywriters. Alternately, I know A-list copywriters who don’t even have a website.
Which do YOU think is most important?
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets