Start Your Career With Confidence

As you can imagine, we get lots of questions from our students about how to get started in the copywriting business. In the upcoming weeks, we'll answer a few of the most common ones.

At issue today, is something every beginning copywriter wants to know: How do I get confidence in my work – enough so that I can go out and get clients?

We asked Michael Masterson and Bob Bly for their input, and this is what they had to say:

From Michael Masterson …

I believe you can have a mind full of doubts and worries and still succeed. I believe it's possible to achieve amazing things with a frightened heart and a terrified mind.

It's more than a belief, actually. It's certain knowledge.

I know because I have always been full of doubts and fears. I was afraid of failing when I wrote my first promotion, which resulted in tens of millions of dollars in sales. I am still full of doubts and fears now … even with all the successes I've had over the past 25 years.

I want you to know that you don't necessarily have to change your "attitude" or embolden your heart to succeed. I tried to change my psyche. I read the books and studied the tapes. But, if I had to wait till my attitude changed before I could be successful, I'd be waiting still.

Instead, I decided to ignore my doubts and fears. I reasoned that if I could muster up just a little bit of courage – just enough to take one small step at a time, I'd become successful.

I took that approach with everything I did, and what I discovered encouraged me. It didn't seem to matter whether I believed in myself – what mattered was what I was actually doing.

From Bob Bly …

I am the least self-confident person you would ever want to meet – so if I can do it, you can do it too. Entire books have been written about how to build confidence and self-esteem, but here are my quick tips:

  1. Work very hard to get good at your craft. Be a total student of direct response.
  2. Do the best job you can on every assignment. Put twice as much effort into the work as you feel the client is paying for.
  3. Be modest in your promises to the client. Don't tell him you will beat his control; tell him you will write the strongest package you can that you feel has the best chance of beating the control. Under-promise and then over-deliver.
  4. Find another student or writer who can be your "copy buddy." To get a second opinion, you read each other's work before you send it to the client. This gives you greater confidence in the copy you submit.

[Editors Note: We also recommend that you do a peer review of your copy to make sure it is A+ before you send it to a potential client.]

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: February 16, 2004

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