With smoke swirling around my head, a pantsless senior citizen standing next to me, and my flip-flops splashing in an unknown-but-I-can-assume-it’s-bad liquid on the floor, only one thought came to mind:
What the heck did I do to get here?
Let’s jump back.
I’m 21 years old, living in my first apartment with my best friend, and we hear the fire alarm go off across the hall.
As fate would have it, he was busy on the phone with his girlfriend, so it was up to me to respond.
We knew of the weirdos across the hall. An elderly gay man and a terribly old woman. They were drunks at best, druggies at worst. Mostly harmless, moderately friendly. And old.
It was close to midnight when their alarm went off that night. There was no commotion that we could hear.
I didn’t want to. But I HAD to
Groaning and in my pajamas, I lumbered off the couch, put on my flip flops, and walked across the hall to knock on their door.
I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911, giving the dispatcher all the info I had.
I went back to knock on the door some more.
Few things in life prepare you for the sight that I saw next.
The door opened and standing before me was the old woman – I forget her name – her hair in disarray, her eyes bleary, and her bony, leathery legs sticking out from the shirt she was wearing.
No pants. The shirt was just barely covering what God had given to her at least five decades prior.
Behind her was a comical amount of smoke billowing about to the point where you couldn’t see into the apartment.
It looked like a scene from Cheech and Chong.
Her roommate wasn’t home, and she seemed confused but aware of the situation that she apparently tried to remedy herself.
Because I wasn’t interested in the entire building burning down, I followed her inside so she could show me the source of the smoke.
Peering through the air and trying to make out whatever shapes I could, I walked into her bedroom in the back, where my flip-flops splashed around.
In her babbling, I deduced that she had passed out in bed with a lit cigarette in her mouth.
She pointed to the black, charred spot on the hardwood floor where the fire had been, and then said, “I put it out with my bucket. I think it’s out, it’s just so smokey.”
I looked at the bucket, which was kept next to her bed. Then I looked at my feet.
It didn’t take me more than 2 seconds to figure out what she was using that bucket for.
Satisfied that the fire was out, I spun around and exited back to the hallway. As my eyes adjusted to the light and clear air, I saw the lights of the fire truck and the police car parked out front.
A cop came in, pulled me aside, and asked me a few questions about our neighbor. I answered the best I could.
Eventually, a fireman came out and confirmed to me what had happened (and yes, confirmed to me what was in the bucket, to my horror).
After giving a statement, I headed across the hall back to my apartment – an hour after I had left.
My roommate had finished up his phone conversation. I regaled him with the details of my evening as he doubled over in laughter.
I concluded with, “Next time, you’re going.”
Being “interesting” is not an accident
People like having me at parties.
It’s not because I’m cool or funny or a great guy. It’s because I’ve got some good stories.
I have tons of them. You’re going to keep hearing more in these posts.
It’s no accident.
I have good stories because I put myself in position to have good stories.
I get out and among people. I try new things. I take calculated risks.
And then I get together with people and share the experiences.
These stories are almost universally about getting out of my comfort zone.
By trying new things and going towards uncertain experiences, I have the benefit of a much more interesting life with plenty of advantages. When you have stories in your back pocket, you are always ready for a conversation.
And getting out of your comfort zone is a great habit for any aspiring copywriter.
If you’re comfortable, you’re doing it wrong
The comfort zone is a terrible place for copywriters.
And in one conversation, I can tell whether or not you have ever been out of your comfort zone.
You are afraid to take chances.
You don’t want to invest because you’re worried about whether or not the return is “guaranteed”.
You don’t want to do cold outreach because it’s “inefficient”.
It’s clear that you lead a sheltered life, hiding behind your computer screen instead of getting out and risking something bad happening once in a while.
See, building that habit empowers you.
It allows you to get comfortable with discomfort.
And uncomfortable actions are what build copywriting businesses and careers.
4 Uncomfortable Things That Advance Your Copywriting Career
- Doing more cold outreach. Yep. Reaching out directly to businesses, cold, and presenting yourself as someone that they should work with. It’s wildly uncomfortable because it takes a lot of time, and it requires you to directly confront rejection. It’s also the fastest and easiest way to build your income from scratch. Bar none.
- Booking phone calls. My wife likes to say that I can close just about any client if I get them on the phone. I hate phone calls! But I also know that I can charm anybody once I get them on the phone. Phone calls – when you get good at them – are slam dunks. But you have to face being bad at them and botching a bunch of them while you get used to speaking with strangers.
- Making up a portfolio. “How do I get clients without any experience?” Make up some experience. Clients largely don’t care about what extensive experience you have. They just want to see that you can put words together correctly and effectively. So make it up and take a chance. It’s scary because you’re flying blind when you do it and you don’t know if it’s going to work until you start showing potential clients.
- Investing in your career. I wouldn’t be where I am without strategic investments. In 2011, when I wasn’t making more than $2500/month as a copywriter, I invested more than a month’s worth of my income on a copywriting program that pulled me into direct response. And in 2018, when I was making even less (thanks to entirely avoidable mistakes), I took out a terrible loan to finance admission into another writing program. Making those investments changed my life. And there was no guarantee of success AT ALL. There were no refunds on either. I just took the chance and told myself, “I guarantee my success, nobody else does.” And I refused to quit. It’s uncomfortable because you can easily waste your money with poor choices. But without taking risks, you aren’t going to grow.
You have two choices in life: stay comfortable and be boring, never making progress on the things you want.
You can start embracing discomfort, take actionable steps to pull you out of your comfort zone, and finally grow into the person, the career, the income, and the life that you always wanted.