The number one reason copywriters don’t make it?
It’s what’s going on between their ears.
I really should be better at writing copy before I reach out to clients.
Why would clients listen to me? I have nothing to offer yet.
The market is saturated with better copywriters than me – nobody would hire me.
And so on.
Without ever stepping foot on the playing field, you’re already losing.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
To illustrate this, let’s talk about good ol’ American football…
The youngest team in the NFL playoffs
Being from Wisconsin, I am a born-and-bred fan of the Green Bay Packers.
Packer games are pretty much the only sporting event I make sure to see. I enjoy other sports a little, and other NFL games are okay, but Packer games are the one thing I organize my schedule around.
This year, the Packers are a young team.
The quarterback is in his first year as a starter. Virtually the entire offense is in their first or second years, actually.
Everyone expected this to be what’s called a “rebuilding” year for the team: everyone is just learning to play together, and nobody expects them to win anything major.
For the majority of the year, that was the case: flashes of greatness combined with a lot of lackluster play, and some embarrassing losses to weak teams.
By the end of the season, the Packers strung together enough wins to get into the playoffs – and they became the youngest team in NFL history to do it.
Make no mistake: they barely got in.
It was the whipped cream on top of the 2023 season sundae.
The Packers could say they were a playoff team this year. They get valuable playing experience in the heightened playoff atmosphere. All good things.
Every Packer fan – including me – was prepared for that to be the best it got.
Especially because of who we were staring down.
The Dallas Cowboys: Undefeated at home…
The Packers’ first playoff game was set to be against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys – once one of the elite “dynasty” teams of the NFL – had plenty of embarrassing moments in recent years.
But they hired the Packers’ former head coach, put together a solid roster of players, and suddenly found themselves as one of the best teams in the league.
This year, many expected them to go to the Super Bowl.
Part of that reason was their record at home: 8-0.
Nobody could beat them when they were playing in their stadium.
The Packers had to go to that stadium for their first playoff game.
Every pundit in America picked the Dallas Cowboys to win.
One memorably wrote: “This could be ugly. The Cowboys could hang 40 points on them.”
What happened when they played?
Remember: The Dallas Cowboys haven’t lost at home all year.
In fact, they haven’t been down by more than 14 points at home in two seasons!
The Green Bay Packers – with all their inexperience and roughness around the edges – walked into the Cowboys’ home stadium and jumped out to a 27-0 lead in the first half.
They were so good, virtually everyone following football watched with their jaws on the floor.
At one point in the third quarter, they were up 41-16.
The final score was 48-32, and it was never even that close.
The undefeated Dallas Cowboys – expected to go to the Super Bowl – were bounced out of the playoffs by a team that squeaked out a winning record by one win and have only been playing together for most of a season.
Adopting an “Any Given Sunday” mentality
The Packers famously said they didn’t consider themselves underdogs.
So they went out and played as if they had as good a chance to win as anyone else.
And it paid off.
If they had listened to every on-paper reason why they should just be happy to be there and accept their whooping, they wouldn’t have bothered playing hard at all.
And they’d be cleaning out their lockers today.
Instead, they marched in with confidence, won, and now they head out to the next playoff game – one step closer to a Super Bowl that once seemed utterly impossible this season.
The NFL and its fans like to talk about “Any Given Sunday”: the rule that, despite records and expectations, any team can beat any other team in any game, if given the chance.
The Packers proved that.
Now it’s time for you to prove it to yourself.
Remember when I said that your problems start between your ears?
Right now, you haven’t sold yourself as a copywriter because you are listening to the “expectations”.
You assume that your youth or your inexperience would make it impossible to make money as a copywriter right now.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
All you have to do is get in front of the right client. Suddenly, you’re building experience and getting paid to do it.
But you have to get off the bench and play the game.
With the right strategy, inexperience doesn’t matter
You know how you combat inexperience?
And soft skills.
If you can make someone feel comfortable about working with you, and you display mere competence with your writing samples, that’s really all it takes.
In 2013, a company offered to bring me in on a monthly retainer.
After several phone calls, they asked what I would want to be paid for a retainer. I told them, “I don’t know, nobody’s ever asked me that before!”
They laughed – and then spent the next 2 years paying me $5,000/month plus royalties.
They were comfortable with me. I approached with honesty about my experience, but confidence in my abilities.
Over and over, I’ve seen this play out. I’ve had dozens of clients hire me without really looking at my writing samples.
They just like me and I can show confidence when we talk. They know it will be a pleasant client experience.
Convince them of that and you get hired. Regularly.
Ignore the haters – even if they’re in your head
The worst hater is yourself.
Your brain will do whatever it takes to save you embarrassment and discomfort.
Silence your brain.
Start having conversations with potential clients. Learn what they are looking for. Adapt to them.
Suddenly, the market won’t feel saturated.
You won’t be wasting your time practicing copy.
You’ll be getting paid to write copy every day.
And that, my friend, is the sweetest victory of all.
It’s a victory you can’t get sitting on the bench.
So get out there and get your jersey dirty – your chances of success depend on it.
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