This month, I joined a special copywriter mastermind. It’s a big deal for me. At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but it’s becoming clear.
Yesterday, in the first coaching call, the leaders were asking what we got out of the first challenge and the first week. I had no idea what to answer. I’d already been in another program that had a similar lesson. I knew where I wanted to be in five years. It’s how I want to get there that’s in question. Not that the exercise wasn’t good. It was insightful, I just wasn’t clear on what more to share.
(Of course it could’ve also been that it was 7:30 in the morning, pre-coffee. I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy. I usually have SOMETHING to say).
But in the middle of the coaching call, I did realize something:
I’ve been copywriting for three years. Being able to take a course of this caliber is significant beyond measure for me. While I’m still not earning what I could be earning (another reason), this entire year has been mind-blowing now that I think about it. And without this week’s challenge, I might not have fully appreciated that.
I’ve come a long way from where I started
This year, I’ve significantly invested in my training. The numbers I’m spending are nowhere near what’s possible to spend, but I’ve significantly invested in two major, well-respected programs to up my game. I’ve also attended a professional copywriters’ conference to learn from some amazing people, many of whom were where I am now just a few years ago.
Deciding to sign up for this course was a MAJOR decision for me.
I can afford it. I’m bringing in enough most months in client work to cover the tuition, take care of other business expenses (including a few wants) and pay myself a little something. That was my first career goal. And I made it.
But three years ago…
Three years ago, I got my first client because after designing my own virtual assistant website and getting ready to start working, I dropped my computer. The sound it made as the front left corner hit the wood floor… well, it wasn’t good and I knew it. It would start to load and then go to a dark screen. I could hear the disk drive banging inside. I went to a local computer store but I also knew I couldn’t afford another computer. I couldn’t work without a computer. We’d just moved back from overseas. Our savings account was empty. We had one kid in college. I had an undiagnosed chronic illness…
The one thing I had was I’d designed one website before… Mine. This computer guy had a website that had to have been 15 years old. A new website for a new hard drive. And I felt like I’d finally made it. Someone was “paying me” for my services… having no idea what a website really was valued at and embracing all of the headaches that would soon come from a truly nice client who only valued his website at $275.
Dumpster-diving for learning opportunities
I had no budget for learning. I could manage a book here and there, but I attended every free digital marketing webinar that showed up in my Facebook feed just to glean a bit more knowledge, one more insight — knowing that even though I might get some fabulous information, there was no way I could even touch what was being held back behind the paywall. When the pitch started, I’d sign off. Depending on what point I was in my cycle, there might’ve been a few tears.
I ended up on the phone with several self-professed experts, looking to sign me up for their special mentorship programs, proclaiming all the joys and successes I could find if I hired them as my coach — “There’s a bank that can give me a loan — it’s called a credit card. Don’t you want to invest in your future?” (Nope…that had gone as far as it would go, too). But they let me know I’d struggle terribly without them. They’d promise to call back in a few months when things were better, predicting that they wouldn’t be if I didn’t have someone to be hold me accountable. Things actually were a bit better every month, but nowhere near their scale, if they’d bothered to call. They were probably on to their next dream, too.
I spent hours that added up to weeks listening to podcasts (probably the best option) and discovered some reputable free courses and wonderful books that helped guide the way. I joined a few amazingly supportive communities as I went from virtual assistant to digital marketing purgatory to realizing what I’ve been doing for a while had a name — copywriting.
Paying my dues
I’ve worked for small, local businesses. I’ve encountered psycho psychotherapists (Seriously…she was diagnosable). I’ve experienced the gamut on Upwork — from great opportunities that I still treasure to full-blown scammers looking to steal my identity — some were pretty elaborate.
While I completely buy the idea that “having to ‘pay your dues’ is a lie,” I’ve paid my dues. Like every other newbie copywriter, I’ve screamed into the darkness “what should I charge for this?” until I was hoarse because the answer always was “It depends.” I’ve horrendously undercharged. I’ve put systems in place and written up my legal documents. I’ve iterated my website maybe 5 times now as my niche and skills have changed.
Back to the present
Oh yeah, the coaching call — I was sitting there telling myself not to be a wall-flower, to put myself out there and get the most I possibly could,.. but I couldn’t think of what to say. I listened. What had I gotten out of this first challenge and this first week?
I looked at those faces, like a copywriter Brady Bunch square if the Bradys had birthed 32 kids. So many were so young. They’d just made the decision to freelance and become a copywriter, and they walked right into this program, first thing they did. I was so happy for them because they had the potential to skyrocket into actually earning a living and making a mark, and I’m still earning a part-time income for almost full-time work.
But I wouldn’t have missed those past three years of finding myself, fighting for what I wanted, and learning to make due. It was quite a lesson. And now I really know what I want.
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…
I’ve been spending the last three years iterating my business, trying out niches, tactics, and trying to figure out where I fit in with my experiences and skill set. I’ve learned so much and put so much into practice. It’s okay. I like to test out my options.
Its time to settle all of that and just sit and be a copywriter for a while — not a student, not a side-hustler. I want to say “Yes, I can do _____ for ____ businesses” and just do it without worrying about what I’m not doing or what’s next or if I can eek (okay, more than eek) out a living for that type of client. That excites me.
So for a bit, this blog is going to be about that process, which should be resolved sometime in the next 4 months. Phew.