One of my favorite inspirational books starts out like this:
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten…
…These are the things I learned.
The pages that follow outline the author’s credo, his system of beliefs. The things he’d gleaned from learning and living and life.
I fell in love with All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten years ago, my first exposure to Robert Fulghum’s prose.
It’s simple. But the credo is more than simple… it’s elemental.
I like that, in books and in life… and in business.
I think we all do, deep down. But often we make things much harder than they really are. Much more complicated than they need to be.
I know I have.
Not sure why.
Perhaps we feel doing things “the hard way” makes it more authentic, more worthwhile. Somehow… more credible.
It doesn’t. Not really.
What it often does is make the simple thing exasperating. We beat our heads against the wall, because we seem to be spinning our wheels, stuck in the mud.
We try hard to build a writing business — really, we do — yet success eludes us.
It’s easy to get frustrated, for sure.
That’s the reason for this article. To give you hope, direction, and maybe a smoother ride… on firm ground, not slogging through muck.
To help you learn from my successes (and from my mistakes, as well).
I want you to get moving in the “write” direction. To get busy and have your best year yet!
All I really need to know I learned by rolling up my sleeves and digging in.
Here’s what I learned…
A goal is not enough
I use a daily planner — The Full Focus Planner from Michael Hyatt.
At the top of each page is an inspirational quote. This past Wednesday, right at the top of the daily planning page, I read this quote:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
That is so true, particularly for us “solo-preneurs.”
We write out our goals: a six-figure income, leave my job, make a living by writing… whatever it might be.
We even go so far as to describe our ideal writer’s life. What it looks like, what it smells like, how it feels.
Then… we stop there.
Don’t get me wrong. Goal-setting is a good thing. But a goal, in and of itself, is not enough.
You need an action plan to reach that goal. A set of baby steps that will move you consistently from point A to point B…
This year break down your goals into milestones and plan your journey to each one. You don’t drive from New York to Los Angeles in one click. First you pull out of the driveway… then down the street. If you’ve not been there before, you use a map and plan your route.
A workable plan… matters.
Done is better than perfect
I used to obsess about getting things perfect: my website, my LinkedIn profile, my marketing message.
I worried if I published them too soon, before they were done (in my opinion), I’d fail.
It turns out NOT publishing them, even while still “works in progress,” is what held me back.
Honestly, they’re still works in progress (WIP). Always will be. Sure, they’re a little more polished now than they were a year ago. But, they’re still WIP. As I grow and evolve, so do they.
I’ve rewritten my LinkedIn profile and website About page no less than six times each. And each time, the results get better.
No doubt I’ll be rewriting them again… soon.
The fact is you won’t get found unless you’re out there to be found. Get it done and out in the world, even if it’s a little rough around the edges, because…
The myth of just one more…
This is another mistake many new writers make… and yes, I’m guilty, too.
You probably already know where I’m going with this.
“One more program, and I’ll be ready to launch my business. Just one more!”
“When I get one more sample back from review… I’ll be ready to rock.”
Think about this for a minute. There are a lot of books and articles and handbooks on child-rearing. And, while I’m sure some couples read them before they were expecting, a lot of us didn’t.
We waited until we found out… then scrambled to find out how to handle it!
I did that with a press release project. I accepted the gig, made a follow-up appointment, then found a training program and studied like a mad man right up until the meeting.
Sure, you need to get a handle on the basics of copywriting or content marketing first. But understand this: You never stop learning. Things always change… and besides, you don’t have time to study it all at once.
Not if you want to make money as a writer.
Phrase of the day? Learn while you earn.
And vice versa.
Another myth buster: The dangerous “Go Big or Go Home”
In my humble opinion, this is a risky stance to take. Period.
I’ve heard many new copywriters declare it boldly and even publicly. And…
A lot of them went home before they had a chance to succeed in a big way.
This type of business takes time. Sometimes a little… sometimes a lot.
There’s no predicting how long. Just know it will take some time, and the amount is different for each writer.
Give yourself time to succeed.
It goes back to what I said about goals and action plans. Each small milestone you reach is a reason for celebration. And, while you may not get “there” right away (whatever “there” is for you), you’ll find you got “somewhere” and made progress.
Remember that little snowball you pushed down the hill as a child?
As it rolled down the slope, it got bigger and bigger and rolled faster and faster.
Be the snowball… and get rolling and growing.
One last tip… from Robert F….
Be in business for yourself… but not by yourself
Now, Fulghum didn’t address this directly. But, the final sentence in the final paragraph of his credo states this:
“And it is still true, no matter how old you are — when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
You can’t beat a support group for, well, support. I know some say accountability or peer review groups aren’t important.
I think they’re extremely important. My group has met on the phone almost every week for the past four or five years. We critique copy. And, we share strategies and information we’ve found.
But more importantly, we support each group member in other ways. We understand what they’re going through and trying to do.
Make it happen… for you
That’s all for now. If you master those concepts, you’ll be well on your way to a successful new year as a copywriter.
Consistency will be a key factor in putting them into play.
They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. That’s true.
But, the journey continues by putting one foot in front of the other, consistently, until the destination is reached.
Keep working. Keep learning. Keep pushing onward. Get busy, and…
Make this year your best year yet.