1,000th post: my best advice to aspiring copywriters

37 replies
So you want to be a copywriter, eh?

Cover your private parts, ladies and gents. This is a rough field to play. But sticking with it can be rewarding in the most unimaginable ways.

I'd love to say my career trajectory was an upward-facing arrow...

Sadly, I'm a stubborn asshole and my path to success looks more like the kind of straight line that would be drawn by a drunk crackhead - it's ALL over the place.

Is it even a line? Who knows?!

So if my bashing-my-head-repeatedly-into-the-wall experience helps even ONE up-and-comer lurking here, I will consider my life's work a complete and total success.

Here are a few hard lessons I've learned from the copywriting trenches:

1) Don't just do research - do the RIGHT research.

A simple Google search ain't gonna cut it. You need to be devouring statistics, fact sheets, discussions in your target market's forums, online reviews, and anything else you can get your hands on. If it's a great angle - FANTASTIC. Make sure it's not just some random blogger or journalist spouting off an opinion.

This isn't mass media. Your clients need to be able to trust your opinions. There aren't on-air apologies a la Brian Williams for this kind of snafu - there are only lost money and a shot reputation. Don't be lazy. Do the research and don't make assumptions.

2) Know when to STOP researching.

On a related note, you have to know when enough is enough. This is the law of diminishing returns - at some point you're going to be doing a whole lot of busy work for not that much more gain.

Interestingly enough, I find that this applies more to beginning career copywriters than mid-level and up. Especially when it comes to gaining experience and finding clients.

We always see people asking for the next best course, the best seminar, the best mentor, etc...

You know who winds up succeeding? The people who don't get stuck in the never-ending self-education loop and get out there and DO. Take what you've learned and apply it. See if it stands on its own. If it doesn't, figure out why.

You'll learn so much more from taking action than you will from studying those who took action.

3) Stop worrying about the RIGHT way to do things and start doing things that FEEL right.

Don't get me wrong - conventional wisdom is all well and good. But recognize that thought leaders became thought leaders because they ACTUALLY THOUGHT. They didn't just regurgitate stuff they've learned from the greats. They took that knowledge, used it, learned from it, reinterpreted it, TRULY understood it.

Everyone loves to tell you that there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. I agree to a certain point. What works today works for a reason - and reinventing the wheel right out of the gate is going to leave you on the side of the road while everyone else is off and running.

Model on success - find something that WORKS, use it exactly like you learned it, and then when you have enough experience to understand WHY it works, go with your gut and your personal goals and tweak it until it works just right for YOU.

4) Be painfully honest.

I love the whole "fake it until you make it" concept. It's gotten me through a lot of jams in life - just look and act like you belong and you'll get by.

There's a caveat though - don't pretend to know something you don't. That's a great way to destroy your reputation and shake people's faith in your judgment. When I've come up against that barrier, I've found that being honest with people is just the ticket.

In the end, people want to work with someone they know, like, and trust (thanks Kevin Rogers). Blowing smoke up someone's ass when they're paying you for expertise you don't have is just bad business.

If you don't have the experience - tell them, and tell them what you'll do to quickly get up to speed and test your work. THIS is how you get paid to learn instead of paying others to teach you. Honesty and hard work.

5) Be yourself.

This goes back to the right way/wrong way to do things.

My dad told me I'd never be employed if I got visible tattoos and had my labret pierced...

I'm sitting in a cushy office drinking fancy coffee and daydreaming about my next big concept.

My friends told me being a pro writer and musician was damn near impossible and I should use my smarts for something guaranteed, like doctoring or lawyering...

You know how many unemployed doctors and lawyers I know? Countless. Yet I'm the one able to pay off her student loans every month.

My colleagues told me my crazy ideas and weird interests would be a detriment to business...

My clients are so loyal that they'll recommend people to me out of the blue after years have passed. They'll come out to my band's gigs just to hang. They'll dig up cash to have me help them brainstorm their next big thing. And best of all, they approach me with weird, crazy projects that I LOVE.

Why? Because I'm me. I like rock 'n' roll, tattoos, and crazy ideas. I'll raise funds for animal rescue or other passion projects and be so amped up that I can barely SLEEP because I'm so happy to be working.

6) Know which advice to take.

Look, I've been given a lot of great advice.

I've also been given a lot of shitty advice from people more interested in their turn to talk than how their words could affect my LIFE.

And if I'd listened to a lot of the advice I've been given over the years, I'd likely still be waiting tables and/or be stuck in a dead-end job, counting the hours until retirement.

This goes back to doing what FEELS right.

Sometimes your gut will be wrong, but often you'll find it's right on the money. Got a pit forming in your stomach at the thought of working with that potential client over there? Ignore the people telling you to take anything that comes your way just to get the experience - instead, avoid the heartache that comes with the shitty client experience your gut's trying to warn you about.

Shared work you're proud of and got someone telling you to quit because you'll never be good enough? **** those guys. Share it with someone you trust and get real workable advice from someone who cares and will encourage you.

7) You are the company you keep.

My last piece of advice is a bit of a cheat - it's conventional wisdom. If you want to be an A-lister, start hanging out with A-listers and ditch the bottom-feeders. 'Nuff said.


Holy brain dump, Batman.

Do with it what you will. But don't let anyone else tell you how to succeed. Only you can do the succeeding for you. So get out there and take some damn action, fall down, pick yourself back up, and keep moving.
#advice #aspiring #copywriters #post
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Gimme an oh hell yeah. (Tried to post a Stone Cold Steve Austin pic, but nothing doing.)

    Thanks for the brain dump. Be you. Amen.
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    Good stuff, great share, totally had to look up the meaning of labret. Ouchie.

    Newbies, listen to the above advice.
    Signature
    Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
    - Jack Trout
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by joe golfer View Post

      Good stuff, great share, totally had to look up the meaning of labret. Ouchie.

      Newbies, listen to the above advice.
      Totally inspired by your 1,000th post, which is pure gold.

      LOL if you've seen Brian's picture of the two of us at the Action Seminar a couple years back, you can kinda see it glimmering in my face a tiny bit there. Fits with the rockstar persona though
      Signature

      Aspiring copywriters: if you need 1:1 advice from an experienced copy chief, head over to my Phone a Friend page.

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  • Profile picture of the author ChadHaynes
    Inspiring post Angie!

    As a musician with a "totally out there" piercing (yeah right) myself, I resonated with this a lot:

    "My friends told me being a pro writer and musician was damn near impossible and I should use my smarts for something guaranteed, like doctoring or lawyering..."

    Lawyers and doctors struggle too, as you said. Only problem is, they don't seem happier when they're busy.

    Great post!
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      Angie, I don't know whether it was chance or planned,
      but you said something which is a very effective rapport
      building device.

      Jobn Carlton routinely uses it.

      Do you know what you said that fits
      into that?

      Best,
      Get's-ya-thinking-Ewen
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      • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
        Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

        Angie, I don't know whether it was chance or planned,
        but you said something which is a very effective rapport
        building device.

        Jobn Carlton routinely uses it.

        Do you know what you said that fits
        into that?

        Best,
        Get's-ya-thinking-Ewen
        Don't know if you're referring to that whole damaging admission/stubborn asshole thing or not This was unplanned brain dump type material that I word-vomited all over the page when I suddenly thought, "holy shit, my next post is #1000!"
        Signature

        Aspiring copywriters: if you need 1:1 advice from an experienced copy chief, head over to my Phone a Friend page.

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        • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
          Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

          Don't know if you're referring to that whole damaging admission/stubborn asshole thing or not This was unplanned brain dump type material that I word-vomited all over the page when I suddenly thought, "holy shit, my next post is #1000!"
          It was the part where others were blocking your path.

          Most people can relate to that story because something
          or somebody/people blocked their path and it hurt.

          John Carlton tells how a woman wouldn't let him
          read a book on copywriting so he stole her's.

          This lead him to swearing when he got good
          he would not hold back in helping others get good
          at copywriting.

          Some say it's a negative energy, but you'd be surprised
          how it became the driver to so many people's success.

          Once again, most people have had a similar experience
          you described and you become a hero to them because
          you beat the force like they are trying to or have.

          Best,
          Doctor E. Vile
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          • [QUOTE=ewenmack;9927923]It was the part where others were blocking your path.

            Most people can relate to that story because something
            or somebody/people blocked their path and it hurt.

            Yeah, if you've ever had your neck in a noose, you learn to pack a decent bolt cutter & watch out for the guys tying other people in knots
            Signature

            Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

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  • Profile picture of the author tj0575
    As an aspiring copywriter, I thank you much for the brain dump and word vomit... I've never liked vomit until now.. Hmmm not bad... Lol.. Again thanks for the words of wisdom
    Signature

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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Thanks for the good post Angie.

    Only thing I would say is the info you gave shouldn't ONLY be for beginning copywriters. Sometimes those who've been doing it for a while seem to get information overload from all the different pundits on how to best do things.

    I've talked to several copywriters over the years that moan the fact their best work was years ago and now they just can't seem to get their mojo back. Once they had clients banging their door down and now they struggle to find work. Something happened along the way. I suspect information overload to the point they forget the basics.

    Your advice is good for new and old copywriters.
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  • Profile picture of the author Slade556
    This is a very insightful post, those are some great tips for aspiring copywriters. You were also spot on, everyone thinks that being a copywriter is so darn easy because you only have to write down some ideas and you're done with the job but things are indeed not that easy! Especially if you want to be successful at it
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  • Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

    So you want to be a copywriter, eh?

    Cover your private parts, ladies and gents. This is a rough field to play. But sticking with it can be rewarding in the most unimaginable ways.

    I'd love to say my career trajectory was an upward-facing arrow...

    Sadly, I'm a stubborn asshole and my path to success looks more like the kind of straight line that would be drawn by a drunk crackhead - it's ALL over the place.

    Is it even a line? Who knows?!

    So if my bashing-my-head-repeatedly-into-the-wall experience helps even ONE up-and-comer lurking here, I will consider my life's work a complete and total success.

    Here are a few hard lessons I've learned from the copywriting trenches:

    1) Don't just do research - do the RIGHT research.

    A simple Google search ain't gonna cut it. You need to be devouring statistics, fact sheets, discussions in your target market's forums, online reviews, and anything else you can get your hands on. If it's a great angle - FANTASTIC. Make sure it's not just some random blogger or journalist spouting off an opinion.

    This isn't mass media. Your clients need to be able to trust your opinions. There aren't on-air apologies a la Brian Williams for this kind of snafu - there are only lost money and a shot reputation. Don't be lazy. Do the research and don't make assumptions.

    2) Know when to STOP researching.

    On a related note, you have to know when enough is enough. This is the law of diminishing returns - at some point you're going to be doing a whole lot of busy work for not that much more gain.

    Interestingly enough, I find that this applies more to beginning career copywriters than mid-level and up. Especially when it comes to gaining experience and finding clients.

    We always see people asking for the next best course, the best seminar, the best mentor, etc...

    You know who winds up succeeding? The people who don't get stuck in the never-ending self-education loop and get out there and DO. Take what you've learned and apply it. See if it stands on its own. If it doesn't, figure out why.

    You'll learn so much more from taking action than you will from studying those who took action.

    3) Stop worrying about the RIGHT way to do things and start doing things that FEEL right.

    Don't get me wrong - conventional wisdom is all well and good. But recognize that thought leaders became thought leaders because they ACTUALLY THOUGHT. They didn't just regurgitate stuff they've learned from the greats. They took that knowledge, used it, learned from it, reinterpreted it, TRULY understood it.

    Everyone loves to tell you that there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. I agree to a certain point. What works today works for a reason - and reinventing the wheel right out of the gate is going to leave you on the side of the road while everyone else is off and running.

    Model on success - find something that WORKS, use it exactly like you learned it, and then when you have enough experience to understand WHY it works, go with your gut and your personal goals and tweak it until it works just right for YOU.

    4) Be painfully honest.

    I love the whole "fake it until you make it" concept. It's gotten me through a lot of jams in life - just look and act like you belong and you'll get by.

    There's a caveat though - don't pretend to know something you don't. That's a great way to destroy your reputation and shake people's faith in your judgment. When I've come up against that barrier, I've found that being honest with people is just the ticket.

    In the end, people want to work with someone they know, like, and trust (thanks Kevin Rogers). Blowing smoke up someone's ass when they're paying you for expertise you don't have is just bad business.

    If you don't have the experience - tell them, and tell them what you'll do to quickly get up to speed and test your work. THIS is how you get paid to learn instead of paying others to teach you. Honesty and hard work.

    5) Be yourself.

    This goes back to the right way/wrong way to do things.

    My dad told me I'd never be employed if I got visible tattoos and had my labret pierced...

    I'm sitting in a cushy office drinking fancy coffee and daydreaming about my next big concept.

    My friends told me being a pro writer and musician was damn near impossible and I should use my smarts for something guaranteed, like doctoring or lawyering...

    You know how many unemployed doctors and lawyers I know? Countless. Yet I'm the one able to pay off her student loans every month.

    My colleagues told me my crazy ideas and weird interests would be a detriment to business...

    My clients are so loyal that they'll recommend people to me out of the blue after years have passed. They'll come out to my band's gigs just to hang. They'll dig up cash to have me help them brainstorm their next big thing. And best of all, they approach me with weird, crazy projects that I LOVE.

    Why? Because I'm me. I like rock 'n' roll, tattoos, and crazy ideas. I'll raise funds for animal rescue or other passion projects and be so amped up that I can barely SLEEP because I'm so happy to be working.

    6) Know which advice to take.

    Look, I've been given a lot of great advice.

    I've also been given a lot of shitty advice from people more interested in their turn to talk than how their words could affect my LIFE.

    And if I'd listened to a lot of the advice I've been given over the years, I'd likely still be waiting tables and/or be stuck in a dead-end job, counting the hours until retirement.

    This goes back to doing what FEELS right.

    Sometimes your gut will be wrong, but often you'll find it's right on the money. Got a pit forming in your stomach at the thought of working with that potential client over there? Ignore the people telling you to take anything that comes your way just to get the experience - instead, avoid the heartache that comes with the shitty client experience your gut's trying to warn you about.

    Shared work you're proud of and got someone telling you to quit because you'll never be good enough? **** those guys. Share it with someone you trust and get real workable advice from someone who cares and will encourage you.

    7) You are the company you keep.

    My last piece of advice is a bit of a cheat - it's conventional wisdom. If you want to be an A-lister, start hanging out with A-listers and ditch the bottom-feeders. 'Nuff said.


    Holy brain dump, Batman.

    Do with it what you will. But don't let anyone else tell you how to succeed. Only you can do the succeeding for you. So get out there and take some damn action, fall down, pick yourself back up, and keep moving.
    Not a word of a lie--that was the best post I've ever read on the copywriting forum.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Andy, I really appreciate the kind words man. Truly.
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  • Profile picture of the author MyNewMama
    Awesome post. Having crazy ideas lets you know that you're a true business person.

    Just as Steve Jobs once said, "the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

    Keep up the good work. Much more success is headed your way!
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  • Profile picture of the author copyassassin
    Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

    7) You are the company you keep.

    My last piece of advice is a bit of a cheat - it's conventional wisdom. If you want to be an A-lister, start hanging out with A-listers and ditch the bottom-feeders. 'Nuff said.

    .

    This to me is your best advice. This is true regardless of niche, industry, or whatever.


    Be around top dogs, and you will become one too.


    Love it!


    Adam
    Signature

    The Most Bad-Ass Tax Reduction Strategist for Internet Marketers who HATE paying taxes. See my happy clients

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  • Profile picture of the author sherwood77
    Well said. I am a newbie really, although I've written copy for my ex-employers and myself over the years, but even I can appreciate that post.

    Reminded me a bit of Carlton actually...
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    Andrew Harkin - Financial Copywriter

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  • Profile picture of the author IntoughShape
    Every 50 - 100 posts I dig through this forum I find golden tidbits like this :3. Quite inspiring and I love the attitude and spunk you throw into your writing, seems like you are quite passionate about what you do and its kind of contagious. A lot of other people try and make these types of posts but they are generic or they give off this newbie vibe, yours was different and real practical. Thanks for the share!
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  • Profile picture of the author AZJOE
    I'm a writer with a background in newspaper writing, feature writing, author, etc. I've done content writing, too. I know that I have the chops for copywriting ... yet it does help as I am willing to call myself a noob (that's the term on WF, right?) when it comes to copywriting. Anyhoo, I say all that in order to say THANK YOU for this post. This is, like, my second or third post ... so I am in Noob City. :-)
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    • "You'll learn so much more from taking action than you will from studying those who took action."


      Awesome advice, and not only for copywriters. Regardless of what you do, being proactive is important.


      Thanks for this amazing post
      Signature

      --------------------------
      web design & development, SEO, client support, online marketing
      Everest Online Marketing

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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    Angie, seven pure advice gems, not a dud in the bunch...

    ...and you're right, that "pit forming in your stomach at the thought of working
    with that potential client" is still the best early warning system you'll have.

    Thanks for the honesty,
    Bruce
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    • Profile picture of the author Jennifer Hutson
      Originally Posted by Bruce NewMedia View Post

      Angie, seven pure advice gems, not a dud in the bunch...

      ...and you're right, that "pit forming in your stomach at the thought of working
      with that potential client" is still the best early warning system you'll have.

      Thanks for the honesty,
      Bruce
      I completely agree, Bruce. I've always walked away from potential clients who gave me the first sign of trouble, no matter how lucrative the project was.

      I felt like it always paid off, until the first time I questioned myself thinking I was being overly cautious and passing up easy money. That first (and last) time I ignored my gut, the client ended up being a total nightmare. I always go with that feeling now and so far, smooth sailing.

      I think it's very important advice for new writers, even if you're strapped for cash. It's just not worth the headache and frustration. Always trust your gut - it has a funny way of being right.

      Angie hit everything else on the head, as well. Some really awesome, accurate points in this post - especially the bits about failure and learning to come into your own rather than being so reliant on "thought leaders."

      I really hope the mods will sticky this thread so that new copywriters can continue to benefit from all the great advice, here. It's not often such candid wisdom is shared.
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  • Profile picture of the author JaxAttacks
    Thanks for the great post!
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  • Profile picture of the author jordand870
    Awesome, epic, simple, and life-changing advice.


    The "Be yourself" one reminded me of myself a lot. I always felt different, now I embrace it.


    Thank you!!
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  • Profile picture of the author decent432
    Thanks. Except:

    "4) Be painfully honest." --> Why "painfully". Noone wants pain.

    "4) Be refreshingly (or) sincerely honest. "
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    • Originally Posted by decent432 View Post

      Thanks. Except:

      "4) Be painfully honest." --> Why "painfully". Noone wants pain. "
      Sometimes, honesty costs you dear.
      Signature

      Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by decent432 View Post

      Thanks. Except:

      "4) Be painfully honest." --> Why "painfully". Noone wants pain.

      "4) Be refreshingly (or) sincerely honest. "
      I chose those words with intent.

      Being honest hurts.

      Anyone who's ever wrestled with that decision to say something that makes you look like a rockstar vs. telling the truth, who's decided to be the one to hurt a dear friend's feelings with the truth, knows what I'm talking about.

      I could make shit up with the best of them, any given day of the week.

      In high school, I used to drive to random cities (when gas was cheap...Boo) and see what kind of outrageous background/origin story I could make up on the spot.

      Lying is easy. Every single one of us has done it.

      Telling the truth is pretty ******* painful sometimes. But like the gaining of muscle after a hard workout, it's a necessary pain for growth.
      Signature

      Aspiring copywriters: if you need 1:1 advice from an experienced copy chief, head over to my Phone a Friend page.

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  • Yes, the truth will set you free.

    You just have to breakthrough the bars, the so called "guards", the dogs, the barbed wire fence. And the shooters in the towers.

    A bit like Andy Dufresne in the "Shawshank Redemption" (and it was worse for him).

    And you may feel It was a cruel blow to have been locked up in the first place.


    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author vour1995
    Know which advice to take.

    Look, I've been given a lot of great advice.

    I've also been given a lot of shitty advice from people more interested in their turn to talk than how their words could affect my LIFE.

    And if I'd listened to a lot of the advice I've been given over the years, I'd likely still be waiting tables and/or be stuck in a dead-end job, counting the hours until retirement.

    This goes back to doing what FEELS right.

    Sometimes your gut will be wrong, but often you'll find it's right on the money. Got a pit forming in your stomach at the thought of working with that potential client over there? Ignore the people telling you to take anything that comes your way just to get the experience - instead, avoid the heartache that comes with the shitty client experience your gut's trying to warn you about.

    Shared work you're proud of and got someone telling you to quit because you'll never be good enough? **** those guys. Share it with someone you trust and get real workable advice from someone who cares and will encourage you.

    Top advice in today's marketing world...
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  • Profile picture of the author Malou2017
    Thanks to your advice. I agree of what you said " Take what you learned and apply it"
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  • Bumpsy thumpsy relevumpsy,
    smacko on my gooseybumpsy.
    Signature

    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

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  • Profile picture of the author SL1
    Point #3 was a hard lesson for me to learn early on in my business. I wish I could rewind time and tell myself that in the beginning. Would've saved a lot time and pain.
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by SL1 View Post

      Point #3 was a hard lesson for me to learn early on in my business. I wish I could rewind time and tell myself that in the beginning. Would've saved a lot time and pain.
      I like to think of those stubborn years as my hard-earned battle scars and war wounds. Makes success that much sweeter
      Signature

      Aspiring copywriters: if you need 1:1 advice from an experienced copy chief, head over to my Phone a Friend page.

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      • Profile picture of the author Kieran D
        Thanks Angie for the great post! In particular I like your comments on research.

        Kieran
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  • Profile picture of the author DavidAllan13
    Great post.

    Now makes me curious as to what others research "system" is or if people have systematized it...such as in steps as they progress from checking one area I.E amazon review, then to online forums etc.

    Dave
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by DavidAllan13 View Post

      Great post.

      Now makes me curious as to what others research "system" is or if people have systematized it...such as in steps as they progress from checking one area I.E amazon review, then to online forums etc.

      Dave
      Rick Duris shared one of his methods here: http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...is-method.html


      I'm not really the systematic type. I find everything I can and inhale it until I feel like I can talk about it from a position of expertise (like I could hold my own in understanding and chatting casually about it in a room of people who are all experts at the topic I'm discussing).
      Signature

      Aspiring copywriters: if you need 1:1 advice from an experienced copy chief, head over to my Phone a Friend page.

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  • Profile picture of the author marleymae
    Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

    So you want to be a copywriter, eh?

    Cover your private parts, ladies and gents. This is a rough field to play. But sticking with it can be rewarding in the most unimaginable ways.

    I'd love to say my career trajectory was an upward-facing arrow...

    Sadly, I'm a stubborn asshole and my path to success looks more like the kind of straight line that would be drawn by a drunk crackhead - it's ALL over the place.

    Is it even a line? Who knows?!

    So if my bashing-my-head-repeatedly-into-the-wall experience helps even ONE up-and-comer lurking here, I will consider my life's work a complete and total success.

    Here are a few hard lessons I've learned from the copywriting trenches:

    1) Don't just do research - do the RIGHT research.

    A simple Google search ain't gonna cut it. You need to be devouring statistics, fact sheets, discussions in your target market's forums, online reviews, and anything else you can get your hands on. If it's a great angle - FANTASTIC. Make sure it's not just some random blogger or journalist spouting off an opinion.

    This isn't mass media. Your clients need to be able to trust your opinions. There aren't on-air apologies a la Brian Williams for this kind of snafu - there are only lost money and a shot reputation. Don't be lazy. Do the research and don't make assumptions.

    2) Know when to STOP researching.

    On a related note, you have to know when enough is enough. This is the law of diminishing returns - at some point you're going to be doing a whole lot of busy work for not that much more gain.

    Interestingly enough, I find that this applies more to beginning career copywriters than mid-level and up. Especially when it comes to gaining experience and finding clients.

    We always see people asking for the next best course, the best seminar, the best mentor, etc...

    You know who winds up succeeding? The people who don't get stuck in the never-ending self-education loop and get out there and DO. Take what you've learned and apply it. See if it stands on its own. If it doesn't, figure out why.

    You'll learn so much more from taking action than you will from studying those who took action.

    3) Stop worrying about the RIGHT way to do things and start doing things that FEEL right.

    Don't get me wrong - conventional wisdom is all well and good. But recognize that thought leaders became thought leaders because they ACTUALLY THOUGHT. They didn't just regurgitate stuff they've learned from the greats. They took that knowledge, used it, learned from it, reinterpreted it, TRULY understood it.

    Everyone loves to tell you that there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. I agree to a certain point. What works today works for a reason - and reinventing the wheel right out of the gate is going to leave you on the side of the road while everyone else is off and running.

    Model on success - find something that WORKS, use it exactly like you learned it, and then when you have enough experience to understand WHY it works, go with your gut and your personal goals and tweak it until it works just right for YOU.

    4) Be painfully honest.

    I love the whole "fake it until you make it" concept. It's gotten me through a lot of jams in life - just look and act like you belong and you'll get by.

    There's a caveat though - don't pretend to know something you don't. That's a great way to destroy your reputation and shake people's faith in your judgment. When I've come up against that barrier, I've found that being honest with people is just the ticket.

    In the end, people want to work with someone they know, like, and trust (thanks Kevin Rogers). Blowing smoke up someone's ass when they're paying you for expertise you don't have is just bad business.

    If you don't have the experience - tell them, and tell them what you'll do to quickly get up to speed and test your work. THIS is how you get paid to learn instead of paying others to teach you. Honesty and hard work.

    5) Be yourself.

    This goes back to the right way/wrong way to do things.

    My dad told me I'd never be employed if I got visible tattoos and had my labret pierced...

    I'm sitting in a cushy office drinking fancy coffee and daydreaming about my next big concept.

    My friends told me being a pro writer and musician was damn near impossible and I should use my smarts for something guaranteed, like doctoring or lawyering...

    You know how many unemployed doctors and lawyers I know? Countless. Yet I'm the one able to pay off her student loans every month.

    My colleagues told me my crazy ideas and weird interests would be a detriment to business...

    My clients are so loyal that they'll recommend people to me out of the blue after years have passed. They'll come out to my band's gigs just to hang. They'll dig up cash to have me help them brainstorm their next big thing. And best of all, they approach me with weird, crazy projects that I LOVE.

    Why? Because I'm me. I like rock 'n' roll, tattoos, and crazy ideas. I'll raise funds for animal rescue or other passion projects and be so amped up that I can barely SLEEP because I'm so happy to be working.

    6) Know which advice to take.

    Look, I've been given a lot of great advice.

    I've also been given a lot of shitty advice from people more interested in their turn to talk than how their words could affect my LIFE.

    And if I'd listened to a lot of the advice I've been given over the years, I'd likely still be waiting tables and/or be stuck in a dead-end job, counting the hours until retirement.

    This goes back to doing what FEELS right.

    Sometimes your gut will be wrong, but often you'll find it's right on the money. Got a pit forming in your stomach at the thought of working with that potential client over there? Ignore the people telling you to take anything that comes your way just to get the experience - instead, avoid the heartache that comes with the shitty client experience your gut's trying to warn you about.

    Shared work you're proud of and got someone telling you to quit because you'll never be good enough? **** those guys. Share it with someone you trust and get real workable advice from someone who cares and will encourage you.

    7) You are the company you keep.

    My last piece of advice is a bit of a cheat - it's conventional wisdom. If you want to be an A-lister, start hanging out with A-listers and ditch the bottom-feeders. 'Nuff said.


    Holy brain dump, Batman.

    Do with it what you will. But don't let anyone else tell you how to succeed. Only you can do the succeeding for you. So get out there and take some damn action, fall down, pick yourself back up, and keep moving.
    Thanks for sharing! I love how direct and to the point you are. I tend to over research and need to work on knowing when too much is hurting my writing.
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  • Profile picture of the author lorryyap
    I'm an aspiring copywriter. Thanks for writing to me.
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