Your input matters--thank you

10 replies
Hey copy connoisseurs,

I've noticed that some of the higher level folk around here have complained on more than one occasion about newbies taking advice but failing to report back on their progress.

(Complain might be too strong a word... substitute with "observe" if you prefer.)

Given that fact, it might be hard to measure the impact of your contributions. Are there newbie copywriters out there hanging on every word you write? Are you helping people?

Are you making a difference in people's lives?

Well, I can't speak for others, but I know that this forum and your input have certainly made a difference in mine.

A little over a year ago, maybe 14 months, I was shoveling rocks for work. Literally shoveling rocks. I had a crappy minimum-wage job at a dangerous factory that was almost certainly illegal. My back ached every day. My bones felt like gravel grinding with every twist of a limb.

I decided I wanted to write for a living. I figured, "Hey, my spelling and grammar are better than these plebs on Facebook!"

I quickly learned the ways writers make money, and naturally gravitated towards the most challenging but rewarding way--writing sales copy.

I devoured podcasts, books and blog posts at a breakneck pace for months. Soon, I managed to talk my way into a three month contract at an advertising agency.

After that was over, I landed my current job--staff copywriter at World Vision Australia.

I started working with my own clients on a freelance basis soon after the role began. Today, I spend about 10 hours a week on freelance work.

My salary is between two and two-and-a-half times as much as it was before I got into writing. Next year, I'm going to make it far greater. My back feels great. Every day I'm intellectually challenged. People view me as articulate, valuable and skillful.

At the factory, I was just a willing spine with a set of tired legs to carry it from shovel to shovel.

Sometimes, when nobody's looking, I take a deep breath and pinch myself--hoping that I don't wake up.

None of it would have been possible without this forum. I've met generous and successful people willing to spare some time to lend me a hand, fellow newbies, and downright lunatics. My attitude and outlook has been transformed simply by observing the way conversations unfold here.

I gained two valuable things: confidence and know-how. These things have allowed me to talk my way into an advertising agency with zero experience, persuade a not-for-profit organisation to choose me over more experienced contenders, and command high (but justified) freelance rates.

Next year, I wanna move into freelancing full time. Given my momentum and progress so far, I have no reason to believe I will fail.

Thank you.

- Chad
#input #matters—thank
  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Posts like these are exactly why I DO help up-and-comers.

    I'm oddly proud of your progress even though you're not a direct mentee of mine.

    Welcome to the gettin' paid club, sir. Glad to hear you're applying what you learned and kicking some ass.

    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 RickDuris
    Chad, your progress and ambition is admirable.

    Can I ask you question? To what do you owe your success?

    If you could give a colleague a top 10 list, what are the top 10 attributes, actions, tasks, qualities to make the progress you've made? What would they be?

    I'm curious.

    As you're aware, I talk with with copywriters every day and I'm always looking for that "difference that makes the difference."

    Give it some thought, please. Thank you.

    - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author ChadHaynes
    Thanks Rick.

    I think it all comes down to trust.

    Not trust in people, or even trust in myself...

    ...but trust that hard work MUST pay off, even if you can't visualize or predict how.

    Let's talk about "variance" for a little bit.

    For a while, I played online poker for a living. When you play casually, it's enough to know the rules and to pretend like you're a mind reader. But when you play for income, your philosophy changes.

    Luck is a factor in poker, as it is in life. So how can a poker player expect to make consistent income?

    Well, the answer is that it's not consistent at all. Sometimes your luck can be awful for a month straight (downswing). Conversely, sometimes it can be extraordinary (upswing).

    This phenomenon is called variance, and every poker player on Earth has to deal with it.

    On an infinite timeline, however, luck cancels itself out. On an infinite timeline, only the quality of your decisions matters. Knowing that, the professional poker player slugs on through the swings. Nobody lives forever, and luck can't be controlled, but the poker pro realizes that quality decisions bring success despite those realities.

    So how is this relevant to my career?

    Well, my quality decisions involved reading, researching, networking and asking questions. Caring. Thinking. Loving the work and being utterly fascinated by those who do it well.

    If someone rejected my copy or ideas, I'd view it as a downswing. If someone paid me to write for them, or hired me, I'd view it as an upswing.

    Like the poker pro, I didn't get attached to "wins" or "losses". I was simply sluggin' on through the swings. I knew that it was IMPOSSIBLE for all of that effort to amount to nothing, as long as I kept it going.

    I think many people fail when they hit their first downswing. They fear that the effort they're pouring into learning the craft will be wasted, so they implement misguided "damage control" tactics (they give up). They get too attached to the downswing.

    I think many people fail when their first big success withers away. They are so demotivated by the experience that they no longer want to continue. They get too attached to the upswing.


    I'm just tickin' boxes. Doing what I can on a day-to-day basis. Trusting.


    - Chad
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Originally Posted by ChadHaynes View Post

      Like the poker pro, I didn't get attached to "wins" or "losses". I was simply sluggin' on through the swings. I knew that it was IMPOSSIBLE for all of that effort to amount to nothing, as long as I kept it going.
      That's pretty enlightening.

      Not to minimize at all what you said, but I think some people sum the philosophy up as "the harder I work, the luckier I get".

      I love the variance metaphor. Great hook for what we're talking about.

      I'm sure you'll do well with your freelance career.

      - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author jessegilbert
    awesome! the best life seems like it would be a mix of copywriting for big money with a little labor...but on your own farm!
    ThermoNuclear Branding: The #1 Fastest Way To Improve Your Marketing:

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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    Thanks Chad,

    There's some engaging copy in both your OP and your response so I'm not surprised your salary is two and a half times before you got into writing.

    Well done.
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  • Profile picture of the author Len Bailey
    Congratulations, Chad... and best wishes for BIG winners!

    Len Bailey
    Feel free to connect on LinkedIn or Twitter

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