Perhaps you would have spent a few years working in an ad agency, and then made the decision to go freelance.
If you didn’t take the agency route, then you would seek out the small number of books that had been written about copywriting and freelancing.
Either way, you would continue to learn – about both your craft and freelancing – at a fairly slow pace. You would learn from a very small handful of authors. You would learn from your clients. You would learn by reading the occasional article in a trade magazine. And you would learn by studying the successful work of your peers.
As for taking in-depth courses to speed things along, no such luck. As far as I recall, there were no courses or programs devoted to copywriting or freelancing back then. Just books and an occasional magazine article.
In fact, if you wanted to read pretty much everything ever written about copywriting and freelancing, you’d probably have been done in a month or so. Then you would have to wait a year or two for the next book to be published.
How things have changed…
Here we are, 25 years later, and hundreds of thousands of posts, articles, ebooks, books, programs and courses have been published about both copywriting and freelancing.
Now for a short test…
If you could choose just one of the following ebook titles, which would it be?
[ ] 3 Ways to double your freelance income
[ ] The Freelance Framework - How to create a success strategy for your freelance business
[ ] How to build your personal growth in sync with your business growth – and why it matters
[ ] Insider Secrets of 6-Figure Copywriters
I don’t know which one you chose, but I do know that if I wrote and published all four of them, the first and last titles would hugely outsell the middle two.
Because they make it sound easy.
Read the first ebook and you’ll double your income. Read the fourth and you’ll be as good as the world’s top copywriters.
It’s the Easy Button.
But as you have probably discovered for yourself, you can read a hundred articles about doubling your freelance income, and then find your income hasn’t changed at all. That’s the thing about cramming your mind with a thousand and one short cuts. It doesn’t work.
Now for a second short test.
How much time each week do you spend reading posts, articles and books about copywriting and freelancing?
[ ] Less than one hour
[ ] More than two hours
[ ] More than four hours
[ ] More than six hours
Now ask yourself how much all this reading has improved either your copywriting or freelance skills.
Are you getting a significant return on your reading – in terms of improved copywriting skills and income from your business?
Or are you wasting a ton of time and making very little progress?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for learning.
I do a lot of reading myself. But I am careful about how I spend my time.
I’m careful because I know that as a freelancer I have just two different types of hours in my day – billable hours and unbillable hours.
Yes, I spend some unbillable time on reading and learning. Because I know that learning is essential to the growth of my business. But I am very self-disciplined about it. I don’t go for the easy button. I’m not drawn by the promise of a quick fix.
In fact, I have pretty much the same attitude and balance in my work life today as I did in the early 1980s.
I focus the vast majority of my time on billable work hours, and am very selective about the hours I devote to reading and learning. I choose thoughtful writers over slick writers. I avoid anything with hype in its title. Before investing my money and time in a book or a comprehensive program or course, I research them and make sure my time will be well spent. I make sure that my investment of time will move me forward in the direction of my goals.
Think of all the really successful freelance copywriters you know who are over the age of 50. (Bob Bly, Clayton Makepeace, Herschell Gordon Lewis etc.)
We didn’t achieve success by spending hours every day reading about the six killer secrets to overnight success.
Beware the easy button. It doesn’t work.
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…