When I moved to Ohio from Florida as a 14-year-old, having left behind my first boyfriend and needing to make a new group of friends all over again, I used some of my spare time to reacquaint myself with my piano and teach myself some new songs.
One of those songs was “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen. I’d pound out the chords of the mournful-sounding chorus and give myself that cathartic experience my lonely, misunderstood, teenage brain so desperately needed.
(You may recall a version of this song playing in the opening credits of the movie “Bridget Jones’ Diary”…)
Being a freelance copywriter OR entrepreneur, or even a remote employee or contractor, can be a lonely experience as well.
No one really “gets” what you do… sometimes your own spouse or parent has a hard time understanding it.
If you’re successful, you don’t get any respect outside your copywriter friend group, because it’s not like you just got promoted to Vice President of the local bank, like some distant relative your father-in-law brags about.
And… like so many of us at ALL levels… if you’re going through a hard time or dealing with the typical ebbs and flows and ups and downs that come with freelancing or running your own business, it’s hard to know who to turn to or what to do… or how to move on and leave it in your rear-view mirror when bad stuff happens.
In the Copy Insiders survey I sent out yesterday (you can find it here… would love to hear from you if I haven’t yet), I heard a bit of a common theme.
In the dozens of responses that came from Georgetown, Indiana or Jackson, Mississippi to Australia, India, and Hong Kong…
…from working (and aspiring) copywriters to business owners and marketers…
…and from people as young as their early 20s and as old as 100+ (okay, I don’t really believe that, but someone actually checked that box)…
I’m hearing things like, “I’m tired of being isolated.” Or feeling sick of “working in a vacuum/bubble.”
Yes, it’s always been a lonely place we’re in… but the isolation of Covid made it far worse the past few years. Fortunately, there are virtual masterminds and social media communities that can provide a lifeline.
Someone even suggested I create one myself, which I may consider… the copywriters in my Fast Track to A-List program this year have made great use of our Slack group to provide support to each other.
Running with that idea, one of the best things I did last year is put together an accountability group with 3 other copywriters and marketers. We meet via Zoom every few weeks to report on our progress towards specific goals and provide a sounding board to each other.
So my advice is to take advantage of the AMAZING number of virtual opportunities to “find” your own support group… they’re out there. Even just having one “copy buddy” to run your copy by, even if you’re still in the learning mode, and to give feedback on theirs, costs you nothing and can help you progress (while feeling less alone).
If you’ve got the money, I’d highly recommend getting out to the live events that are starting to happen again with greater frequency. I’ve pretty much never had a situation where I haven’t gotten at least one new client or project that’s more than covered the cost of attending an event, in some cases by at least 10 times over.
Some events are especially good for meeting clients… typically ones with a broader marketing appeal or higher-end meet-ups of business owners or publishers.
Others are more geared towards other copywriters and can help you level up your skills… and develop your own network of fellow copywriters. You’d be surprised how valuable that can be not just as an antidote for loneliness, but for having clients referred to you or for finding other writers who need to offload some work.
FYI I’m going to be attending The Copywriter Club In Real Life (TCC IRL) event in Nashville the week of March 28th. I’ll be speaking on one of the panels, and also doing a Q&A at an exclusive pre-event workshop. I even let co-founder Kira Hug talk me into doing some “bust a gut” contest where you either have to answer a challenging question or eat gross food… not sure how I got talked into that!
Joining an online mastermind group like Titans Xcelerator (which opens its doors once or twice a year to new members) can give you an instant “community” of marketers, copywriters, and business owners.
Brian Kurtz, who runs it, pretty much know everyone in the direct response world, and offers a wide range of speakers and guests who can help you really expand your knowledge (and client base).
That leads me to the second big overriding challenge I’m hearing about in the survey responses: finding clients!
Some of the loneliness busters I just mentioned have the added benefit of getting you in front of potential clients. Many of you want to find more good clients… or just need help setting up your business.
One Copy Insider said they “never did like to hustle and it feels like many are hustling and struggling. I’m not really struggling because I have a couple of places to get projects. The issue is that I want to be paid more.”
I can’t tell you how many copywriters I’ve mentored or am currently mentoring… I’m talking about men and women (mostly women) who’ve built up a great track record with clients, including those who keep hiring them or are on retainer… and yet are afraid to charge MORE. And I’ve helped them raise their rates or land higher-paying gigs than they thought they could
If you want to be paid more, I can tell you… it’s entirely within your control. You simply have to ASK for more. If you are doing a good job for a current client, they’re not going to want to lose you.
If you are pricing out a project for a prospective client and you go too low, they’re not going to respect you. If you are having a hard time asking for what you want, practice saying it out loud again and again until you can say it confidently.
Every situation is different, I admit. There are a number of factors to take into account. But you must periodically evaluate what you’re charging versus how much time the work is actually taking. You need to figure out what you’re really earning per hour… the answer may shock you!
Then think about how much you WANT to be earning, and figure out how to price accordingly to make up the difference. This is why you want that steady stream of client leads coming in AND know what other copywriters are charging (from getting out of your cave periodically and connecting with other copywriters).
We’ve got a convenient “excuse” to charge more right now: inflation! And if it’s been years since you raised your rates, chances are you’re a lot better NOW at what you do than you were then… so price accordingly! Look, if you were working in a company you’d probably get at least a 3 to 5% annual increase just for breathing.
I’ve got many more challenges and questions that came up as a result of the survey that I’ll do a deep dive into in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, go here and share your thoughts and challenges if you haven’t done so yet…
And get outdoors and enjoy the first day of Spring that’s coming this weekend!
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. You’ll find some advice I’ve doled out in the past about finding clients on my blog here. And you’ll get some of my best tips and tactics in my Client Badassery Secrets e-book, which you can get here for half off.
Here’s what direct response copywriter Carlos R. has to say about it…
“Client Badassery Secrets is the kind of book I should have read 8 years ago. If I had had this awesome book in my hands back then, I would have saved a lot of time, headaches and several bad customer experiences. Having read it now has made me understand what I should have done then… And now I’m really confident on how to deal with any customer from now on… whether he’s easy, difficult or a nightmarish one. Getting your first steps in copywriting doesn’t have to be Hell’s road… Go get it, you’ll save a lot of time, difficulties and you’ll give a great boost to your copywriting career. Certainly it won’t stop bizarre customers from appearing in your prospects line… but you’ll know how to deal with them confidently.”
Yes, you can’t always avoid bad or bizarre clients (I’ve definitely had my share), but check out this book… I think you’ll find it helpful!
P.P.S. If you’re a woman and you’re not already a member of Marcella Allison’s outstandingly supportive community, the Mentoress Collective, you can find out more here. I’ve been a sustaining member since it was founded and have made many valuable connections. You can also take advantage of several zero-cost perks as well.