Get Nrdly Free Trial Built with Nrdly

Shiny Objects are Killing Your Chances of “Making It”

Why focus is what wins in freelancing.

When I focused on cold outreach in April 2008, my business took off fast… and then I stopped doing cold outreach.

Why would I do such a thing?

Because I routinely fell for the biggest, most obvious lie that plagues all freelancers – both aspiring and successful.

Here’s the lie: “There’s a better way.”

A more efficient app. A time-saving delegation. A more productive process.

On the outside, it looks stupid. Let me give you an example.

From consistent money to broke in a year

Early 2008, I do cold outreach and get almost more work than I can handle. I quit my job as a waiter, I dive headfirst into full-time freelancing, and life is good.

By the end of 2008, things are starting to waver a little. I connected with a marketing guy and he was promising big things with our partnership. We worked together on projects, and then I would do free work for him and whatever clients he was able to grab (for wonderful things like “exposure” and “testimonials”).

In early 2009, this guy’s promises were falling short. I was bleeding financially. Despite writing for big names, like one of the first and most popular contestants on The Biggest Loser, a movie production company headed by rather-famous Hollywood actors, and former NFL football legends, I wasn’t making a dime.

But because I was working on bigger projects, I felt like I should be trying to get more of them instead of doing cold outreach for smaller gigs.

I started getting lured into the same flawed thinking that freelancers go through all the time:

  • There has to be a more efficient way!
  • I know! I’ll start my own agency! That will make me look legit and I’ll make a ton of money! I can hire freelancers!
  • I should start by hiring salespeople!

Yes, I hired a salesperson. I posted on Craigslist and conducted interviews, eventually hiring someone on commission after multiple weeks of review.

All the while, not making money.

It should come as no surprise that Meitner Marketing was a flop. The salesperson disappeared immediately after I hired her without speaking to me. None of my efforts to promote myself as an established agency netted any clients. I was losing more and more money, and running out of time.

By the end of 2009, I had taken a job answering customer service emails for a major department store whose corporate headquarters were located near me. I went from the Ultimate Freedom of Freelancing to working in a stuffy corporate office with a dress code, office politics, and a bunch of people I hated working with. I worked 1:30pm-10pm every weeknight, and every other weekend.

The cruel irony of this all?

I could have avoided all of it if I had just remembered what worked in the past.

But I fell for Shiny Object Syndrome – and it nearly killed my career.

We all do this

Take a look at your Twitter feed sometime.

How many times have you RTed a post to get some kind of free guide, video, or PDF on building a business?

Every one of those guides is different.

And you share them because you think, All right, THIS is the one that will change my life!

But it doesn’t.

You read it, you get excited, then you get annoyed by the shortcomings, and you move onto the next one.

All the while, you wonder why other people have “made it” and you haven’t.

Having your focus pulled in every direction means you’ll never be able to commit hard enough at something to see it through.

It’s like you’re dating 4 different people and wondering why you’re not married yet.

It’s understandable. Shiny Object Syndrome is brutal. Everything looks better than what you’re doing.

But the reason ANY strategy works is commitment. You have to really dig in and make it successful yourself.

So how do we do that? How do we make sure we’re working on the right things?

And how do we avoid Shiny Object Syndrome so it doesn’t cripple our chances?

5 Ways to Fight Off Shiny Object Syndrome

  1. If you’ve gotten results from anything, consider doubling down on it! One of the core temptations of Shiny Object Syndrome is the idea that there’s something “better” out there. For example, you do cold outreach, you have some success, so you think there’s a way to do it more efficiently. But by changing up what’s working, you risk breaking it. Double down, even if it’s not “efficient”. Embrace the drawbacks and keep going.
  2. If you need a new strategy, do your homework. Literally anybody can go on Twitter and promise the world from their strategy. It doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth. Dig into that person’s past – yes, even mine – and make sure that you trust them before trying to get their Magic Formula or whatever.
  3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Big claims get a lot of attention on social media. But that 18-year old posing on the hood of the Lambo probably rented that thing for a day so he could take the pictures. His shots sitting in a private jet are more-than-likely faked (there are companies that provide fake private jet photos). That gold watch is probably fake. There’s a reason I talk about my Dodge Caravan all the time on Twitter: it shows that I’m real.
  4. Pay attention to what each strategy claims or promises. Words matter. Watch how they frame money – there’s revenue or income (how much money something makes), and then there’s profit (how much money the person takes home after expenses). So if they claim they made a certain number, see if they are claiming revenue or profits. Because if they say they made $10,000 with this advertising strategy, but they spent $9,500 on advertising and expenses, then they only made $500 profit. That’s not a six-figure income. Take a critical eye to these claims.
  5. Once you find a strategy, stick with it. This is the hardest tip of them all. There are strategies that don’t work. But many do if you just commit to them. Don’t half-ass it trying to make it “better”. Follow it step-by-step and trust the process for a few weeks, minimum. You might be surprised when it blows up. But you won’t know unless you really, actually try.

You can’t be a successful copywriter if you’re also trying to build an online brand, an Instagram agency, and an Amazon FBA business.



And watch what happens.

If you’re looking for the strategy that has not only built my business but kept it going and growing for the last 15 years… I’ll help you.

Lay the groundwork for your copywriting business in just one week of work. In this free guide, I hand you all the basics to get you started fast. No catch – just the cheat sheet.

Want a profitable, sustainable copywriting career? Tap into my 15 years of copywriting experience and build a $5,000-$10,000/month income guaranteed.