When I started copywriting I thought I could defeat the world.
I look back now and laugh – what a tit.
I took any job with total belief, regardless of the meagre purse.
Four fights in, my chin was rocked and left hanging. Rookie.
Guard down. Burnout closed in for the kill.
Then a haymaker took me off my feet – client criticism.
Confidence stolen and dreading the next bout, I crawled back into the ring.
Focus lingered on defeat. Doubt took over. Fight lost before the first bell.
So, why the boxing talk? Well, that’s what saved me in the end …
Trainer: Put your arms down and let him hit you
Me: Fu What? Why?
Trainer: Just do it… again… again… again…
My body wouldn’t let me do it at first, that pain reflex is hard to bypass.
But I managed to let my guard drop once. SMACK.
Then again. SMACK.
The third one changed me. It stung, but I realised I could take it – easily.
Getting punched hard makes you a better fighter. It cuts out your fear of being hit – and gives you confidence to go on the offensive.
Feedback blows on your writing can do the same. I took enough of them as an amateur to realise how much they help you learn the craft – fast.
These rookie mistakes stung me – but only once:
- Misspelt a company name – SMACK
- Wrote a self-indulgent, weak headline – SMACK
- Guessed the prospect’s problem, without research – SMACK
- Assumed the reader knew what I meant – SMACK
- Used three different CTAs in a sales letter – SMACK – SMACK – deserved two for that
There were many more. And others to come I’m sure.
Yes it hurts, but it’s just your pride. Take the full eight count – then go again.
Honest critics are far more valuable than yes men. You’ll never improve by being told your copy is great. Before long, you develop an iron chin.
You can’t get from rookie to pro copywriter, until you’re validated as one, properly …
You Can Get Validated as a Copywriter by Doing This …
If a client likes your work, it’s rare they’ll show you how to improve. If they hate it, it’s rare they’ll have rational reasons why. They are the crowd.
They’ve bought a ticket. This creates a problem for you.
You have the ability to say it better and faster than they expect. The fight could be over in the first round.
They won’t care about the skill it took to end it early – they paid for a twelve rounder.
That’s why you can’t fully trust a slating from them. Clients aren’t copywriters, usually. It’s why they hire YOU.
But that guy you see at the end of every round with a spit bucket and a stool, is a genius.
He sees a different fight than the crowd. His eyes focus only on your mistakes.
If your opponent is on the floor in Round 8 – he’ll kick you up the arse and show you how you could’ve done it in the 3rd – Next fight you might do it in the 7th – then he’ll kick you again.
So it’s vital to get someone trustworthy in your corner. Someone who calls you out on your shit, not to prove a point, but to save you from making the same mistakes again.
And it’s much easier to take from another fighter.
Rob’s my ‘Second’ here at the Content Cavern – I’m his. Totally honest corner shouts are what inspired the website in the first place.
Don’t Mark Your Own Scorecard
Shadow boxing is a myth. It’s for film stars and imposters. Pointless.
You can critique yourself after every piece. In fact, I recommend it. But my middleweight copywriting shout to you is this:
The only way to know for certain that you’re a contender, is to stand toe to toe with someone who can hit you.
Whatever weight you fight at, more punches are coming.
Be ready for them. Brush off the low blows. Welcome the hard shots on your skull.
There isn’t a real copywriter around who’s never been knocked on their arse.
Ask any ring dusty pro what their main weapon is – every one of them will say heart.
Grease over your cuts and fight on.
I hope this nostalgic ode to myself has helped you today. Either way, land your best shots on me in the comments – I can take it. 🙂