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I Have A Confession To Make

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To write simply is as difficult as to be good. W. Somerset Maugham

To write simply is as difficult as to be good. W. Somerset Maugham

I have a confession to make.

Recently, for the last few months, I’ve had a slight downturn in my copywriting career.  Not many people will admit to something like that – it’s like admitting to failure.

Actually, when I say ‘slight downturn’ what I mean is… well… let’s put it this way, if it went down any further I’d be at the bottom of the deepest ocean.

Ouch… that hurts.

However, the truth is, I actually lost my ability to write… literally… gone… just like that.  And I’m still struggling at this precise moment, so please excuse me if my writing’s a little shit (oh, shit, there I go using the ‘s’ word again).

What happened was, I fell into the trap of thinking I could set up an autopilot business online (as so many do), spent a HUGE amount of money… and then realised it doesn’t work that way… no matter how many people tell you it does.

That left me with a whole load of debt and my ability to write copy shot to pieces.  You see, the truth is, it’s not easy writing copy in the first place – it takes a lot of work.  And that’s after you’ve actually learned how to do it.

And that brings me onto my next point.  I lot of people ask how you become a copywriter.  They ask which books they should buy and which courses to get… and which copywriters to follow in order to learn to be the best copywriter.  They believe all you have to do is learn do write copy and the cash will come rolling in.

It’s not that easy.  It’s no accident that there are only a very few copywriters around who earn the big bucks.

Yes, sometimes you can get lucky – I was getting calls from people from all over the place asking me to write copy for them, despite the fact I was asking for ridiculous amounts of money.

In fact, the more I asked for the more enquiries I received.  I was turning them away, literally.

You see, the usual route is to start at the bottom, charging a few hundred dollars for a sales letter… through forums and other sites such as guru.com, etc… and working your way up… waiting for the big break.

At least thats’ the way I see it.  Luckily, I stayed offline.

The thing with copywriting is, it’s not just the ability to write, it’s also the ability and willingness to go that extra mile.  To work that much harder, ‘burning the midnight oil’ as Claude Hopkins put it, to achieve the best results you possibly can.

There’s a scene in the movie ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ with Will Smith where Will’s character, real life millionaire stockbroker Chris Gardner,  visits a prospective client during the weekend at his home.  He was struggling with a medical device on the off-chance he may make a sale, lugging it with him wherever he went without a car, hoping to make a sale.

Chris had no idea whether or not he would get his client, or that he would even see him, but he still went all the way there, hoping for the best.  Now, while he didn’t get that particular client, he did make other contacts as a result of his efforts, at the (American) football stadium.  He met other people there, chatted with them and made friends without trying to sell to them.

Now look where he is.  From the gutter (literally) to millionaire owner of his own stockbrokerage.  And all because he went that extra mile.

Okay, it’s not exactly the same with copywriting, but the work ethic is no different.  To do well, in any field, takes work.  And copywriting is no different.

What I will say is, it helps to have someone to ‘back you up’.  Someone who will take a look at your work and give you his or her true opinion.  Someone who will say, “Hey, that’s actually quite good,”… or… “Give over, that’s a pile of dog poo.”

Whatever it is you do on your way to becoming the next ‘big hitter’ in the marketing and copywriting world, it’s always a good idea to remember these things – that it takes work (a lot of work), patience, desire… and someone to give you a kick up the backside when necessary.

Best,
Marko

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Steve is a copyrighter working for several international advertising agencies and has an immense range of experience in marketing, digital advertising, and creating new branding concepts.